Category: In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Top Topham (1947 – 2023)

Anthony Topham (July 3, 1947 – January 23, 2023) [Top Topham] was an English musician and visual artist who was best known as a blues guitarist and also for being the first lead guitarist of The Yardbirds. Topham left the band before they achieved mainstream popularity and was replaced by Eric Clapton, the first of three lead guitarists from the Yardbirds to gain an international reputation (the other two being Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page).

In the 2000s, Topham guested with the latest edition of The Yardbirds under the co-leadership of McCarty and Dreja, and performed with John Idan in sporadic concerts of his own. He also played alongside eminent boogie-woogie pianist Bob Hall. He officially became a member of The Yardbirds again in 2013, replacing Dreja, who was forced to leave the band for medical reasons. In May 2015, Topham left The Yardbirds and was replaced by Johnny A.

Topham died in January 2023, at the age of 75.

In Memoriam: Jerry Blavat (1940 – 2023)

Gerald Joseph Blavat (July 3, 1940 – January 20, 2023), also known as “The Geator with the Heater” and “The Big Boss with the Hot Sauce,” was an American disc jockey and performer who had been a major influence in promoting oldies music on the radio. A Philadelphia icon, he gained local fame hosting live dances in the area, leading to his own independent radio show, on which he introduced many acts in the 1960s to a wide audience, including the Four Seasons and The Isley Brothers. Blavat was born in South Philadelphia to a Jewish father and Italian mother.

Blavat had four daughters. He was separated from his wife since 1976 and was in a long-term relationship since 1989.

Blavat died following complications from myasthenia gravis on January 20, 2023, at the age of 82. His death was confirmed on Friday morning at Jefferson-Methodist Hospital by his close friend A.J. Mattia and Keely Stahl.

In Memoriam: Van Conner (1967 – 2023)

Van Conner (March 17, 1967 – January 17, 2023) was an American rock musician, best known as the bassist for Screaming Trees.

As a bass player in high school, Conner formed the band Explosive Generation with his brother Gary Lee Conner and Mark Pickerel. That band later evolved into Screaming Trees with the addition of singer Mark Lanegan in 1985. The band moved from their native Ellensburg, Washington to Seattle in the late 1980s to join that city’s burgeoning alternative rock scene. Conner played on seven studio albums with Screaming Trees until the band split in 2000.

While he was with Screaming Trees, Conner formed the side project Solomon Grundy, in which he performed lead vocals and guitar. That band released an album in 1990, and during that period Conner also joined a live lineup of Dinosaur Jr. He later formed another side project called Gardener, which released an album in 1999. After the breakup of Screaming Trees, Conner worked as a session musician and had formed several additional alternative rock bands, including VALIS and Musk Ox.

Conner died from pneumonia on January 17, 2023, at the age of 55.

In Memoriam: David Crosby (1941 – 2023)

David Van Cortlandt Crosby (August 14, 1941 – January 18, 2023) was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. In addition to his solo career, he was a founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Crosby joined the Byrds in 1964. They had their first number-one hit in April 1965 with a cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan. Crosby appeared on the Byrds’ first five albums and produced the original lineup’s 1973 reunion album. He subsequently formed Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968 with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.

After the release of their debut album, CSN won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1969. Neil Young joined the group for live appearances, their second concert being Woodstock, before recording their second album Déjà Vu. Meant to be a group that could collaborate freely, Crosby and Nash recorded three gold albums in the 1970s, while the core trio of CSN remained active from 1976 until 2016. CSNY reunions took place in each decade from the 1970s through the 2000s.

Songs Crosby wrote or co-wrote include “Lady Friend”, “Everybody’s Been Burned”, “Why”, and “Eight Miles High” with the Byrds and “Guinnevere”, “Wooden Ships”, “Shadow Captain”, and “In My Dreams” with Crosby, Stills & Nash. He wrote “Almost Cut My Hair” and the title track “Déjà Vu” for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 1970 album of the same name. He is known for having employed alternative guitar tunings and jazz influences. He released six solo albums, five of which charted. Additionally, he formed a jazz-influenced trio with his son James Raymond and guitarist Jeff Pevar in CPR. Crosby’s work with the Byrds and CSNY has sold over 35 million albums.

Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: once for his work in the Byrds and again for his work with CSN. Five albums to which he contributed are included in Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, three with the Byrds and two with CSN(Y). He was outspoken politically and was sometimes depicted as emblematic of the counterculture of the 1960s.

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1/14/23 In Memoriam: Robbie Bachman (1953 – 2023)

Robin Peter Kendall Bachman (February 18, 1953 – January 12, 2023) was a Canadian drummer and the youngest brother of guitarist, singer and songwriter Randy Bachman. He was the original drummer for both the Brave Belt and Bachman–Turner Overdrive bands. He also was sometimes credited as “Robbie” or “Rob” on the liner notes of Brave Belt and BTO albums.

While growing up, Bachman practiced the drums at home, often playing along with his older brother Randy. When Robbie was age 18, Randy offered him the Brave Belt drumming job, and Robbie accepted. Other members of Brave Belt were Chad Allan and Fred Turner. In 1972, another Bachman brother, Tim, joined Brave Belt after the departure of Allan.

When Brave Belt changed their name to Bachman–Turner Overdrive in 1973, Robbie was credited with designing the BTO ‘gear’ logo. BTO enjoyed a period of peak popularity between 1973 and 1976, releasing five Top 40 albums and six U.S. Top 40 singles (eleven in Canada). Robbie co-wrote (with Fred Turner) one of Bachman–Turner Overdrive’s biggest hits, “Roll On down the Highway” (Billboard No. 14 and RPM No. 4 in 1975). He remained with BTO until late 1979, after their tour supporting the 1979 album Rock n’ Roll Nights had ended.

In 1984, Robbie declined to join a reformation of BTO due to licensing issues with brother Randy. He also opposed Randy’s decision to include Tim Bachman as the second guitarist, instead of Blair Thornton. He was replaced on that 1984 album and subsequent tours by former Guess Who drummer Garry Peterson. Robbie later rejoined the Not Fragile line up of BTO for a reunion lasting from 1988 until 1991. In 1991, Randy Bachman left the band and the rest of the group, with replacement guitarist/vocalist Randy Murray, toured as BTO until the end of 2004.

In 2009, Fred Turner and Randy Bachman reunited and began recording a new album, which was released in September 2010 under the name “Bachman & Turner” to coincide with a world tour. Robin Bachman and Blair Thornton had brought a lawsuit against Randy Bachman in an effort to prevent him and Turner from touring under the Bachman–Turner Overdrive or BTO name.

Bachman was semi-retired following BTO’s last live shows in 2004. He was the uncle of musician Tal Bachman.

Bachman died on January 12, 2023, at the age of 69. He is survived by wife Chrissy. His death was confirmed by his brother and bandmate Randy Bachman, without providing the cause of death.

1/12/23 In Memoriam: Lisa Marie Presley (1968-2023)

Lisa Marie Presley (February 1, 1968 – January 12, 2023) was an American singer-songwriter. She was the only child of singer and actor Elvis Presley and actress Priscilla Presley, as well as the sole heir to her father’s estate. Presley developed a career in the music business and issued three albums: To Whom It May Concern in 2003, Now What in 2005, and Storm & Grace in 2012. Her first album reached Gold certification with the Recording Industry Association of America. Presley also released non-album singles, including duets with her father using tracks he had released before he died.

Presley was married to musician Danny Keough, singer Michael Jackson, actor Nicolas Cage, and music producer Michael Lockwood.

On January 12, 2023, Presley suffered cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California. Presley’s heart was restarted after CPR was administered, en route to a hospital. She died later that day at the age of 54, one month before her 55th birthday. Her last public appearance was at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, which she attended with her mother, Priscilla Presley, on January 10, 2023.

1/11/23 In Memoriam: Jeff Beck (1944 – 2023)

Geoffrey Arnold Beck (June 24, 1944 – January 10, 2023) was an English rock guitarist. He rose to prominence with the Yardbirds and after fronted the Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice. In 1975, he switched to a mainly instrumental style, with a focus on innovative sound, and his releases have spanned genres ranging from blues rock, hard rock, jazz fusion and a blend of guitar-rock and electronica.

Beck ranked in the top five of Rolling Stone and other magazine’s list of 100 greatest guitarists. He is often called a “guitarist’s guitarist”. Rolling Stone describes him as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock”. Although he recorded two hit albums (in 1975 and 1976) as a solo act, Beck has not established or maintained the sustained commercial success of many of his contemporaries and bandmates. He has recorded with many artists.

Beck has earned wide critical praise and received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance six times and Best Pop Instrumental Performance once. In 2014 he received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Beck has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: as a member of the Yardbirds (1992) and as a solo artist (2009).

Beck was married to Sandra Beck since 2005 and was a vegetarian since 1969. He was a patron of the Folly Wildlife Rescue Trust. He had an interest in classic Ford hot rods, performing much of the work on the exteriors and engines of the cars by himself. Beck had a house near Wadhurst, East Sussex.

Beck died from bacterial meningitis at the age of 78.

In Memoriam: Fred White (1955 – 2022)

Fred E. White (born Frederick Eugene Adams; January 13, 1955 – December 31, 2022) was an American drummer. He was one of the early members of Earth, Wind & Fire. He previously played drums on Donny Hathaway’s Live album.

Earth, Wind & Fire consisting of Fred White along with half-brother Maurice White, brother Verdine White, and other members were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

White’s death was announced on January 1, 2023, at the age of 67.

In Memoriam: Anita Pointer (1948 – 2022)

Anita Marie Pointer (January 23, 1948 – December 31, 2022) was an American singer-songwriter, best known as a founding member of the vocal group the Pointer Sisters.

She and her sisters found fame in 1973, when the Anita-led “Yes We Can Can” reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1974, Pointer’s writing talents helped the group make music history when “Fairytale” became a hit on the country music charts and enabled The Pointer Sisters to become the first black female group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. “Fairytale” won the group its first Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group, and a Grammy Nomination for the Best Country Song of the year in 1975.

In February 2020, Anita released the book, “Fairytale: The Pointer Sisters’ Family Story” which was co-written with her brother, Fritz Pointer. The book chronicles the Pointer family origins and history as well as finding themselves as young black women in the San Francisco Bay Area during the Civil Rights and Black Power movement of the late 1960s. As well, it describes the difficulties and successes they encountered throughout their career and shares their chart history, discography and other surprises along the way. Throughout the book, family members also share their memories of the Pointer family history including Bonnie who passed in June 2020. The book earned positive reviews upon release.

Pointer was married several times and had one child. In December 1965, at age 17, Pointer married David Harper. They had a daughter, Jada Rashawn Pointer, born April 9, 1966. They divorced later in 1966. Her daughter inspired one of the Pointer Sisters’ most popular songs, “Jada,” written by the group and released on their debut album in 1973. In October 1981, Pointer married Richard Gonzalez. Pointer and Gonzalez later divorced.

Pointer’s older brother, Aaron Pointer, was an MLB player and later NFL referee. Her cousin, Paul Silas, was an NBA player and head coach.

In October 2021, Pointer was supposed to be a contestant on season 6 of The Masked Singer, as part of a duet with her sister Ruth, who revealed that Pointer had not performed because she was dealing with an illness.

Pointer died from cancer at her home in Los Angeles on December 31, 2022, at the age of 74. Her daughter Jada died of cancer aged 37 in 2003. Her sister June died in 2006 due to cancer.

In Memoriam: Rick Anderson (1947 – 2022)

Rick Anderson, (1947 – 2022) the co-founding bassist of the Tubes who was with the band for a half-century and played on “She’s a Beauty,” “Talk to Ya Later” and “White Punks on Dope,” has died. He was 75.

The band said in a statement that Anderson died December 16 but did not give a cause or other details. “We lost our brother on 12/16/22,” the Tubes wrote on social media (see the Instagram post below). “Rick brought a steady and kind presence to the band for 50 years. His love came through his bass. RIP.”

Anderson played on all of the band’s albums from its 1975 debut to 1996 and continued to tour with them until 2022. His bass can be heard on the group’s lone pop hit, “She’s a Beauty” — which hit the Top 10 in 1983 — along with such classic rock tracks as “Talk to Ya Later,” “White Punks on Dope,” “What Do You Want from Life?” and “Don’t Touch Me There.” (Ctsy Deadline)

In Memoriam: Terry Hall (1959 – 2022)

Terence Edward Hall (March 19, 1959 – December 18, 2022) was an English musician and the lead singer of the Specials, and formerly of Fun Boy Three, the Colourfield, Terry, Blair & Anouchka and Vegas.

He released two solo studio albums and also collaborated with many artists including David Stewart, Bananarama, The Lightning Seeds, Sinéad O’Connor, Stephen Duffy, Dub Pistols, Gorillaz, Damon Albarn, D12, Tricky, Lily Allen and Shakespears Sister.

Hall had a brief romantic relationship with Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos in 1980. They co-wrote the song “Our Lips Are Sealed”. Hall had two sons with his first wife, Jeanette Hall, and another son with his second wife, Lindy Heymann.

Following a suicide attempt in 2004, Hall was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Hall died after a brief illness at the age of 63.

In Memoriam: Martin Duffy (1967 – 2022)

Martin Bernard Duffy (May 18, 1967 – December 18, 2022) was an English keyboardist who originally played with Felt and most famously with Primal Scream.

Duffy died at the age of 55. The cause of death was given as a brain injury suffered after a fall at his home in Brighton.

Primal Scream released a statement that included “We re all so sad … Martin was the most musically talented of all of us. (He) could play piano to the level where he was feted not just by his peers in British music, but old school master American musicians such as James Luther Dickinson, Roger Hawkins, David Hood (and) producer Tom Dowd”. Charlatans singer Burgess said “(he) stepped in to save the Charlatans when we lost Rob – he played with us at Knebworth and was a true friend. He toured with me in my solo band too – he was a pleasure to spend time with”.

In Memoriam: Shirley Eikhard (1955 – 2022)

Shirley Rose Eikhard (November 7, 1955 – December 15, 2022) was a Canadian singer-songwriter. Although moderately successful in Canada as a performer in her own right, she had her greatest Canadian and international success as a songwriter for other artists, most notably as the writer of Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 hit “Something to Talk About”.

Eikhard was born in Sackville, New Brunswick. Her mother, June Eikhard (born Marguerite Cameron in Moncton) began her musical career with her husband, Eikhard’s late father, bassist Cecil Eikhard, in the 1950s when both parents were members of a small local band, the Tantramar Ramblers. Her mother, June, released her debut album, Canada’s First Lady of the Fiddle, in 1959, and was the first woman to participate in the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest.

At age 13, following her debut performance in Cobourg, Eikhard successfully auditioned for the Songwriter’s Workshop at the 1969 Mariposa Folk Festival where she played alongside Joni Mitchell, Ian & Sylvia, and Bruce Cockburn. Two years later, when she was 15, her song “It Takes Time” was recorded by Anne Murray and became a hit in Canada. The song was also recorded by Kim Carnes for her 1971 album Rest on Me.

In 1972, Earl Ball of Capitol Records was alerted to her growing reputation and signed her to the label. She released her first album, Shirley Eikhard, which was moderately successful and won Eikhard two Juno Awards for Country Female Artist of the Year at both the Juno Awards of 1973 and the Juno Awards of 1974.

In 1981, Emmylou Harris recorded Eikhard’s “Good News”, later also releasing a version of Eikhard’s “Maybe Tonight”.

Anne Murray had wanted to record Eikhard’s “Something to Talk About” in 1985, but the song was rejected by her producers; despite the song not being on Murray’s album, it was still titled Something to Talk About. In 1991, Bonnie Raitt recorded the song and released it as the lead-off single for her album Luck of the Draw. The biggest chart hit for both Eikhard and Raitt, the song had significant airplay throughout the 1990s. The song earned Raitt a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1991, with the album earning Raitt a second Grammy that year. In Canada, “Something to Talk About” earned Eikhard a Juno nomination as Songwriter of the Year at the Juno Awards of 1992, and later a SOCAN Classics award.

In 2020, Eikhard was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame for “Something to Talk About”.

Eikhard died of cancer in Orangeville, Ontario on December 15, 2022, at the age of 67.

In Memoriam: Dino Danelli (1944 – 2022)

Dino Danelli (July 23, 1944 – December 15, 2022) was an American drummer. Danelli was best known as an original member and the drummer in the rock group The Young Rascals. He has been called “one of the great unappreciated rock drummers in history”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with the (Young) Rascals.

Born into an Italian American family in Jersey City, New Jersey, Danelli was a jazz drummer by training. He had played with Lionel Hampton and (by 1961) was playing R&B in New Orleans. He returned to New York in 1962 with a band called Ronnie Speeks & the Elrods. He also worked at times with such legendary performers as Little Willie John. Danelli met Eddie Brigati (a pickup singer on the local R&B circuit), and Felix Cavaliere (a classically trained pianist) in 1963. Later that year, Danelli and Cavaliere traveled to Las Vegas to try their luck with a casino house band. They remained there until early 1964, but then ventured back to New York City.

Danelli died on December 15, 2022 at a rehabilitation facility in Manhattan after a period of declining health.

In Memoriam: Bertha Barbee-McNeal (1940 – 2022)

Bertha Barbee-McNeal, co-founder of the Velvelettes died December 16, 2022

From Flint, Michigan, where she was a child prodigy who was adept at playing both piano and organ. And her love of music led her to the music school at Kalamazoo’s Western Michigan University. While there, Barbee-McNeal and Mildred Gill formed The Velvelettes, recruiting Gills’s sister Carolyn and friend Betty Kelly, as well as Bertha’s cousin Norma Barbee. Their singing around campus caught the attention of Robert Bullock, nephew of Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr, who signed the group 1962.

The Velvelettes recorded several tracks on the label in 1963, none of which caught on with radio. But a break came in 1964, when up and coming songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield was assigned to the group, and the result of the collaboration was “Needle In A Haystack,” a Billboard chart hit, and the group’s signature song. They followed with the moderate hits “He Was Really Sayin’ Something,” “Lonely, Lonely Girl Am I” and “These Things Will Keep Me Loving You” before the members parted ways in 1967. They briefly reunited in the late 80s to record a handful of songs on Ian Levine’s Motorcity label.

Barbee-McNeal went on to obtain a Masters Degree in music education at Western Michigan University, and taught in the Kalamazoo public school system, while also raising her family. She was noted in the community for her private piano lessons but also for her work helping to train the voices of many young aspiring artists. Barbee-McNeal received the Western Michigan University College of Education and Human Development Alumni Society Golden Apple Award in 2004.

The Velvelettes were an American singing girl group, signed to Motown in the 1960s. Their biggest chart success occurred in 1964, when Norman Whitfield produced “Needle in a Haystack”, which peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 27 in Canada.