To those we have lost this calendar year I thought I should pay tribute to a special 12 by preparing a recently deceased list by means of a communal obituary (as Megadeth would say Rust In Peace). All my lists have been in 12s recently – it started out as a festive trend as in days of Christmas but it’s coming to be the only denomination I recognise.
So much talent was cruelly stolen from us in 2011 that it almost makes me want to reject the Gregorian civil calendar & revert to the formerly acknowledged Julian; after all what’s 11 minutes between consecutive western interpretations of time passages? Exactly.
Hubert Sumlin (Howlin Wolf’s snarling guitarist as heard on such guttural abrasive classics as Spoonful, Killing Floor & Little Red Rooster which gave The Stones their first number 1)
Captain Beefheart (What is there left to say about this reclusive genius freeform poet turned painter out in the Mojave Desert that hasn’t been lovingly documented elsewhere? He was apparently striving to sound like Sam Cooke but resembled more the man in brackets above. Utterly unique)
Sylvia Robinson (Owner of Sugar Hill Records, had hit with Pillow Talk from Carlito’s Way soundtrack which contains an unnecessary & unsettling amount of salicious groaning noises)
Dobie Gray (Overlooked soul singer whose hits included Drift Away, Loving Arms & The ‘In’ Crowd)
Nick Ashford (Ashford & Simpson fame, Motown hits like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Reach Out & Touch Somebody’s Hand, Solid as Iraq if you’re Dubya and the excellent Reunited which Faith No More opened with at Download 2009)
Heavy D (With his Boyz he helped fuse New Jack Swing with reggae to help shape 90s rap – died devastatingly young)
Jani Lane (of 80s hair metal band Warrant whose hits included Cherry Pie & Heaven)
Jerry Lieber (of immortal Lieber & Stoller songwriting fame who launched the popular musical Smokey Joe’s Café based on their songs)
John Barry/Roger Williams (Autumn Leaves & Born Free composer best sung by Ronnie Barker in Porridge as well as a proficient & diversive popular instrumentalist. Barry died last January aged 77 after composing some of the most iconic film soundtracks spanning over four decades including 12 James Bond films (most of the best), Midnight Cowboy, Dances with Wolves & Out of Africa. Typical work ethic for a Yorkshire lad.)
Bert Jansch (Scottish folk singer/guitarist of a recently reformed Pentangle who headlined Green Man festival in 2008 & contemporary & collaborator to the equally mighty Jon Renbourn)
Bill Tapia (Ukulele-wielding centurion who released 1st cd aged 96! Other than being the oldest living performer he also performed with Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong & Hawaiian legends like King Bennie Nawahi)
Kim Jong Il/Colonel Gaddafi/Osama Bin Laden etc.
Eeerm yeah most dictator’s contributions to music may look shaky on the surface but opposition & political upheaval are major motivating factors toward song writing as well as musical protest wouldn’t you say? If I wasn’t quite so lazy or Western-orientated in the music I obsess over then I could probably find some artistic examples…