Passages in 2012: Notable deaths in music
Posted December 28, 2012
Richard Adler, 90, composer and lyricist who won Tony Awards for co-writing songs for such hit Broadway musicals as The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees. He produced President Kennedy's birthday celebration that featured a breathy Marilyn Monroe. Cause not given, June 21.
Maurice Andre, 78, trumpet virtuoso who was ubiquitous as a soloist with major orchestras and on hundreds of recordings. He specialized in Baroque repertory, notably the work of Bach, Handel and Telemann. Cause not given, Feb. 25.
Bob Babbitt, 74, prominent Motown studio musician and Funk Brothers member whose bass-playing pounded through the Temptations hit Ball of Confusion and Marvin Gaye's Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology). Babbitt played on more than 200 top-40 hits, including Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips and The Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Brain cancer, July 16.
Fontella Bass, 72, the soul singer whose Rescue Me was a hit in 1965; she later became a Grammy-winning gospel singer. Heart attack, Dec. 26.
Dave Brubeck, 91, whose smooth approach to jazz brought it into the mainstream during the 1950s and 1960s. His Time Out was the first million-selling jazz album. No cause given, Dec. 5.
Pete Cosey, 68, innovative guitarist who brought his distinctive distorted sound to recordings with Miles Davis, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Cosey took a creative approach to stringing and tuning his guitars, and he liberally applied the distortion pedal to his licks. Complications from surgery, May 30.
Nick Curran, 35, guitarist who played with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Lowlifes and the Flash Boys, among other groups. In 2008, Curran performed four songs on the HBO show True Blood. Tongue cancer, Oct. 6.
Donald "Duck" Dunn, 70, bass player, songwriter and a member of Booker T. and the MGs and the Blues Brothers band. Dunn performed on recordings with Eric Clapton, Neil Young and many others and specialized in blues, gospel and soul. He played himself in the 1980 hit movie The Blues Brothers. In his sleep, May 13.
Clare Fischer, 83, two-time Grammy-winning composer who wrote scores for television and movies. He is best known for his arrangements for Prince, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Branford Marsalis and Usher. Complications from a heart attack, Jan. 26.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, 86, renowned German baritone who performed for more than five decades on stages in Berlin, Vienna, London and New York. His recordings of works by composers such as Mozart, Schubert and Strauss set benchmarks for generations of singers. In his sleep, May 18.
Robin Gibb, 62, the original lead singer of the Bee Gees, the family singing act that first gained attention in the '60s for Beatles-esque pop tunes, but moved into orchestral rock and then the soaring disco that made them superstars in the late '70s. Their contributions made 1977's Saturday Night Fever soundtrack a No. 1 album for 24 weeks. Colorectal cancer, May 20.
Marvin Hamlisch, 68, one of the most prolific, enduringly popular composers for film and Broadway. The youngest student ever accepted into New York's prestigious Juilliard School - he began studies there at age 7 - he won four Emmys and Grammys and three Oscars. He was best known for his work on the beloved musical A Chorus Line and movies The Way We Were and The Sting. Unspecified illness, died Aug. 6.
Levon Helm, 71, who as a drummer backed legendary musicians and then became a star himself with The Band and as a solo artist. On the strength of timeless songs such as Up on Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Helm sang lead and drummed on all three), The Band earned enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. From 1980 to 2008, Helm acted in more than a dozen films, most notably as Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter. Throat cancer, April 19.
James "Red" Holloway, 84, noted saxophonist who performed with the likes of Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton and Aretha Franklin. Kidney failure and a stroke, Feb. 25.
Michael Hossack, 65, longtime Doobie Brothers drummer whose work is heard on the hits Listen to the Music and China Grove. Hossack played with the group from 1971 to 1973 and rejoined in 1987. Cancer, March 12.
Whitney Houston, 48, one of the MTV Generation's biggest superstars sold more than 170 million records in a career cut short by marital troubles and drug abuse. Her commanding presence and soaring voice fueled top films such as The Bodyguard and Waiting to Exhale, and 11 No. 1 hits. Drowned in a bathtub, Feb. 11.
Etta James, 73, the rhythm and blues icon whose 50-year career was marked by powerful songs, such as her signature At Last, and an often tumultuous personal life. The three-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was beloved for her raw passion, ribald humor and brutal honesty. Leukemia, Jan. 20
Davy Jones, 66, British-born, 5-foot-3 singer who cast a long pop-culture shadow as the lead of The Monkees, the nation's first made-for-TV boy band that spawned hummable staples such as Daydream Believer and Last Train to Clarksville. Heart attack, Feb. 29.
Jon Lord, 71, keyboardist for Deep Purple and the hard-rock group Whitesnake. Lord co-wrote some of Deep Purple's most famous tunes, including Smoke on the Water. He went on to play with Whitesnake in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Pulmonary embolism and pancreatic cancer, July 16.
Tony Martin, 98, baritone who appeared in movie musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s. Among his hit recordings were I Get Ideas and To Each His Own. He was featured in 25 films, including Banjo on My Knee and The Ziegfeld Girl. He was married first to Alice Faye and later to Cyd Charisse for 60 years. Natural causes, July 27.
Dorothy McGuire, 84, singer who teamed with sisters Christine and Phyllis for a string of hits in the 1950s and '60s as the McGuire Sisters. They earned six gold records for hits including 1957's Sugartime. The sisters were known for their sweet harmonies and identical outfits and hairdos. Parkinson's disease, Sept. 7.
Scott McKenzie, 73, singer who performed the anthem for the 1960s counterculture movement, San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair). McKenzie also co-wrote Kokomo, a No. 1 hit for The Beach Boys in 1988. Complications from Guillain-Barre syndrome, Aug. 18.
Patricia Neway, 92, soprano who excelled in avant-garde operas and on Broadway, where she won a 1960 Tony Award for her performance as the Mother Abbess in the original production of The Sound of Music. Congestive heart failure, Jan. 24.
Johnny Otis, 90, singer, bandleader and disc jockey whose best-known song was 1958's Willie and the Hand Jive. A white man born in a black L.A. neighborhood, he dedicated his life to promoting R&B music to mainstream audiences. Cause not given, Jan. 17.
Louisiana Red, 79, respected slide guitarist and itinerant bluesman. He recorded in Detroit in the early 1950s under the pseudonyms Rocky Fuller and Playboy Fuller. His recordings Red's Dream (1963) and I'm Too Poor to Die (1964) were regional blues hits. Complications from a stroke, Feb. 25.
Jenni Rivera, 43, Mexican-American singer and reality television star known as "the Diva of Banda," a brassy, percussive style of pop music. Plane crash, Dec. 9.
Earl Scruggs, 88, Country Music Hall of Famer who popularized a complex, three-fingered style of playing banjo that transformed the instrument, inspired nearly every banjo player who followed and became a central element in bluegrass music. He and band partner Lester Flatt reached popular audiences with Foggy Mountain Breakdown and The Ballad of Jed Clampett, the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies TV show. Natural causes, March 28.
Ravi Shankar, 92, whose hypnotic Indian sitar was embraced by the Beatles and the '60s counterculture. He played at the Monterey Pop Festival, at Woodstock and helped organize the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, the first mega-music relief event. His daughter is singer Norah Jones. He died a few days after heart surgery, Dec. 11.
Robert B. Sherman, 86, half of a sibling partnership that put songs into the mouths of nannies, Cockney chimney sweeps and jungle animals. Sherman and his brother, Richard, composed scores for films including The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They also wrote It's a Small World (After All). They won two Academy Awards for Walt Disney's 1964 smash Mary Poppins - best score and best song, Chim Chim Cher-ee. Cause not given, March 5.
Joe South, 72, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter who performed hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s such as Games People Play and Walk a Mile in My Shoes. He also penned songs for other artists, including Down in the Boondocks. Heart attack, Sept. 5.
Donna Summer, 63: Reigned as the queen of disco in the late '70s, when the music itself ruled the dance floor and the charts. The singer with flowing locks won five Grammys as she commanded listeners to move with sultry vocals that rode pulsing rhythms and lyrics that promised a "last chance for romance." Cancer, May 17.
Joe Thompson, 93, much-honored fiddler whose music offered a link to an almost-vanished tradition of African-American string bands that predated the blues and even the Civil War. Thompson's awards included a 2007 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Pneumonia, Feb. 20.
Doc Watson, 89, folk-music icon who was blind from infancy yet played the acoustic guitar with such pure precision that Bob Dylan once compared his picking to "water running." Born Arthel Lane Watson, he picked up the nickname "Doc" at the suggestion of an audience member at a radio broadcast when in his teens. Complications from a fall, May 29.
Bert Weedon, 91, British guitarist whose popular "Play in a Day" instructional manual introduced a generation to the power of the guitar. Weedon had also performed with such renowned jazz artists as Stéphane Grappelli and George Shearing and accompanied singers Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. Long illness, April 20.
Kitty Wells, 92, the "Queen of Country Music" who blazed the trail for female performers in the genre. Wells became a groundbreaking force in country music with her breakthrough 1952 hit, It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, the first No. 1 hit by a solo female singer on the country charts. She was the country music industry's top female vocalist for 14 straight years. Stroke, July 16.
Andy Williams, 84, the Moon River singer who charmed fans for decades with his smooth crooning, easygoing manner and boyish good looks and became one of America's most beloved entertainers. During the 1970s, his TV Christmas specials became a holiday staple. Bladder cancer, Sept. 25.
Adam "MCA" Yauch, 47, who as one of the Beastie Boys urged everybody to "make some noise" and "fight for your right to party" in the mid-1980s. They broke down racial barriers and helped rap migrate into America's mainstream. Salivary gland cancer, May 4.
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