Well, it's finally December 31st. They can't possibly squeeze in any more deaths can they? [editors note: this was written on December 30th, I'm tempting fate] Unfortunately, I have to keep bringing the bad news. This is only part 4 of the blog series and I've still got more to go before finally closing the chapter on this somber year.
Nick Menza - Date: May 21st. Cause of death: heart failure mid performance. Age: 51.
Nick was the drummer for one of the most famous metal bands of all time, Megadeth, and he was the drummer during arguably the best lineup. Nick was the drummer on 4 of their albums, every single one went platinum. A cool, and very metal, story about Menza is that he almost lost his arm in a power saw incident, after the reconstructive surgery he auctioned off the powersaw, still covered in blood, and a copy of his x-ray.
Bernie Worrell - Date: June 24th. Cause of death: Lung cancer. Age: 74.
Bernie is mostly known for his work with Parliament/Funkadelic as well as all George Clinton's other projects and for his work with Talking Heads. His work with synthesisers and keyboards shaped so much music. The things he created and worked on helped create the foundation for the funk around him at the time, R&B in the future, develop many new wave sounds, and some of the tracks he played on were heavily sampled in west coast 90s hip hop to create the genre "G-Funk." To call him anything but one of the most important, but sadly overlooked, keyboardists in history would be a disservice to music.
Rob Wasserman - Date: June 29th. Cause of death: Cancer(?) unconfirmed. Age: 64.
While Rob worked with a plethora of artists, he is most likely known for his RatDog collaboration with Bob Weir of Grateful Dead. He was classically trained and played a standup bass. Wasserman won a Grammy for his song "Brothers" which he worked on with Bobby McFerrin.
Kashif - Date: September 25th. Cause of death: unknown. Age: 59.
Kashif is an musician and producer who has seemed to have faded from peoples memory, sadly. He had some success as a solo artist, garnering three grammy nominations, but his most impressive work was behind the scenes or collaborations. He produced and helped write several of the tracks on Kenny G's first platinum album. He also produced Whitney Houston's first hit single "You Give Good Love" and performed/produced a duet with her on the same album, her 13x DIAMOND debut album.
Jean Shepard - Date: September 25th. Cause of death: natural. Age: 84.
Jean was a country honky tonk star mostly known in the 50s and 60s but had a career into the 80s, recording 24 albums between '56 and '81. She had 73 songs in the top 100 country over her history. A few early on songs of hers had some crossover success. Her '53 song, and first charting single, "A Dear John Letter," reached #1 in country and #5 in pop billboard. Her followup "Forgive Me John" was top 10 in country and top 25 in pop.
Rod Temperton - Date: Late September / Early October (No specific date known). Cause of death: unknown. Age: 66.
Temperton was another big keyboardist. His work is probably much more familiar to people than his name. He was the lead song writer and keyboardist for Heatwave, and wrote music for several other people, including Michael Jackson. His most well known song of all is probably "Thriller", he also wrote "Off The Wall" for Michael.
Pete Burns - Date: October 23rd. Cause of death: heart attack. Age: 57.
Pete was the founder of 80s pop band Dead or Alive. The band had two hits, a minor hit with a cover of "That's the Way (I Like it)" and the huge hit song "You Spin Me Round," a defining 80s pop song.
Bobby Vee - Date: October 24th. Cause of death: Azlheimer's. Age: 73.
Bobby was an early 60s pop star with numerous charting singles, including six gold singles. He had a fairly rough start, having to fill in for his idol Buddy Holly after the infamous plane crash "The day the music died." At the age of 15 he, his brother, and several schoolboys had to play in the slot that Buddy Holly was scheduled for at the Moorhead Winter Dance Party. During Vee's early career he toured with a young Robert Zimmerman in his band, that person would later go on to be known as Bob Dylan.
Well, that concludes blog four, only one more to go (barring some sort of plane crash...)!