The Rambler :: blog

Monday, December 20, 2004

Musical Deaths in 2004 

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Back in March, my Job required me to start collecting obituaries of musicians. I've blogged already about the oddities of obituaries. What I want to do here is put up, by way of memorial, a list of all those we have lost this year. Not because I have a morbid fascination in this sort of thing; rather - as I mention in that previous post - because of a lively interest in memory, memorial and the achievements of great people. Memory is one of the most important materials in music - it's like marble for a sculptor - and remembering the dead is one of the most important human functions. Remembering musicians seems important on so many levels.

The list below is in rough reverse chronological order. It was compiled by me throughout the year using a combination of e-mail mailing lists and the obituaries RSS feed available from Moreover. It goes without saying that the list is far from complete, and unfortunately only goes as far back as March.

I've tried to link to available obituaries wherever possible.

2004 felt like a bad year for musicians. John Peel, Ray Charles and Elvin Jones will probably head any list of high profile losses in the end-of-year papers, and they will all be sadly missed. It felt like a bad year for punk too, with the deaths of Robert Quine, Arthur Kane and Johnny Ramone in quick succession. Zombies guitarist Paul Atkinson also said his goodbyes.

Reggae took a couple of big knocks with the losses of Coxsone Dodd and Errol Thompson. Elsewhere, metal, industrial and hiphop were shocked by the sudden deaths of Darrell Abbott, Jhonn Balance and Ol' Dirty Bastard.

In classical and opera, Robert Merrill, Renata Tebaldi and Carlos Kleiber were among the significant departures. Composers Denis ApIvor, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein and Jonathan Kramer will also be missed. Kramer's contribution to musicology will also be missed; musicology also lost Denis Stevens, Percy Young, Cyril Ehrlich and Albi Rosenthal.

Sadly, every year too many jazz and blues musicians die. Elvin Jones is of course the most significant of 2004; mention should also be made of Illinois Jacquet, Sacha Distel and Robert 'Willie' Egan.

Unfortunately, it was also a sad year for those of us who were still boys in the mid-80s. Etienne Roda-Gil and Ritchie Cordell, the composers of 'Joe le Taxi' and 'I think we're alone now' respectively both passed away. For various reasons these two songs had a major influence on so many of today's 20-something men. God bless you both.

Finally, do spare a thought for the Zawose family. Hukwe Zawose, who died late last year, was one Tanzania's greatest musicians. His nephew Charles died in October of this year from an AIDS-related condition. Charles Zawose, singer and ilimba-player, was accompanist of choice for his uncle, and was a fine musician. Both their deaths have brought to an end one of Tanzania's greatest musical dynasties.

Musician Deaths in 2004

Renata Tebaldi
Lyric soprano

M.S. Subbulakshmi
Singer of Carnatic music

Sidonie Goossens
BBC Symphony Orchestra harpist

Margaret Fay Shaw
Collector of Gaelic folksong

Jerry Scoggins
Country and Western singer

C.P. Spencer
Motown singer, songwriter and producer

Elena Souliotis
Greek soprano

Dimebag Darrell
Ex-Pantera guitarist

Frederick Fennell
Symphonic wind conductor

Errol Thompson
Jamaican recording engineer

Norman Newell
Record producer

Kevin Coyne

Jacques Levy
Lyricist, worked with Dylan and on Broadway

Billy 'Uke' Scott
Ukulele player and music hall star

John Buller

George Canseco
Composer of Filippino national hymn

Cy Coleman
Broadway composer

Terry Melcher
Byrds producer

Frederik Prausnitz

Michel Colombier
Film composer (New Jack City), and "Godfather of French Fusion"

John Balance
Coil co-founder

Ol' Dirty Bastard
Wu Tang Clan rapper

Bill Reed
Doo-wop bass singer with the Diamonds

Terry Knight
Manager of Grand Funk Railroad

William Yarborough

Pete Jolly
Jazz pianist and accordionist

Robert Heaton
New Model Army drummer and songwriter

Joe Bushkin
Jazz pianist

Howard Keel

Robin Kenyatta
Jazz saxophonist

Terence Sharpe
Welsh baritone

Lilian Kallir

Charles Zawose
Tanzanian musician

Robert Merrill
Leading baritone

John Peel
Radio DJ

Michal Hambourg
Pianist and teacher

Greg Shaw
Garage rock entrepreneur

Dave Godin
Soul CD compiler and music journalist

Heinz Wallberg
German conductor

Wally Harper
Arranger, composer and conductor who worked on Broadway

Vernon Alley
Jazz bassist

Juraj Benes
Slovak composer

Johnny Ramone
Guitarist with the Ramones

Dave Kirby
Country singer-songwriter

Ian Lake
Pianist and composer

Billy Davis
Songwriter - taught the world to sing and buy Coke

Carl Wayne
Lead singer with the Move

Laura Branigan
Singer, songwriter and actress

Hans Vonk

Charlie Waller
Bluegrass singer and guitarist

Gnonnas Pedro
African salsa singer

Edmund Kurtz
Cellist and music editor

Melvin Endsley
Composer of 'Singing the Blues'

Gérard Souzay
Lieder singer

Elmer Bernstein
Oscar winning film composer

Michael Eagan

Tony Mottola
Emmy-winning guitarist who played with Sinatra

Robert 'Willie' Egan
Blues legend

Albi Rosenthal
Music collector

David Raksin
Film composer, wrote 'Laura'

Rick James
'Super Freak' songwriter

Piero Piccioni
Italian film composer

Carlos Paredes
Master of the Portuguese guitar

Yoko Watanabe
Opera singer

Jerry Goldsmith
Oscar-winning film score composer

James Williams
Pianist with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers

Sacha Distel
Smooth French crooner

Illinois Jacquet
Legendary saxophonist

Carlos Kleiber

Bill Randle
DJ credited with establishing Elvis Presley

Claude "Fiddler" Williams
Jazz violinist

Arthur Kane
Original bassist with the New York Dolls

Edward Reilly
Mahler scholar

Naomi Shemer
Israeli songwriter

Jonathan Kramer
Composer and musicologist

Red Kelly
Jazz bassist

Iona Brown
Violinist and conductor

Ray Charles
Soul singer

Cyril Ehrlich
Economist and music historian

Robert Quine
Guitarist with Richard Hell and Lou Reed

James Savas
Music professor

Etienne Roda-Gil
Chanson writer - wrote 'Joe le Taxi'

Steve Lacy
Soprano saxophonist

Clint Warwick
Moody Blues bassist

Denis ApIvor

Lorand Fenyves
Violin teacher

Ronald Smith
Pianist, "the Alkan man"

Terence Pamplin
Instrumentalist and musical polymath

Rick Henderson

'Gatemouth' Moore
Blues singer

Letitia S. Bernhardt
Founder of Baltimore opera

Elvin Jones
Jazz drummer

John la Porta

Percy Young
Elgar scholar, composer and editor

John Whitehead
R 'n' B legend

Brenda Fassie
Queen of African pop

Erik Smith
record producer

Coxsone Dodd
Dub producer

Barney Kessel
"The best guitarist in the world"

Fred Karlin
Oscar-winning film composer

Ritchie Cordell
Songwriter of 'I think we're alone now' and others

Paul Hamburger
Vocal coach and accompanist

Juanito Valderrama
Flamenco singer

Argeo Quadri
Opera conductor

Colin Smith
Trumpeter with Acker Bilk

James H. Bey
Jazz percussionist

AC Reed
Saxophonist, singer and songwriter

Denis Stevens

Paul Atkinson
Zombies guitarist

Gabriella Ferri

Nikita Bogoslovsky
Soviet era composer

Sylvia Froos
Actress and singer

Bob Copper
Folk singer

Hubert Gregg

Johnny Bristol
Singer and songwriter

Vilayat Khan
Sitar player

Vilém Tausky
Conductor, composer and champion of Czech music in Britain

Sydney Carter
Folk singer and songwriter of ‘Lord of the Dance’

Preston Love
Jazz Sazophonist

Estelle Axton
Co-founder of Stax records

Tony Lee
Jazz pianist

RIP, all of you.


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