Lonnie Smith (July 3, 1942 – September 28, 2021), styled Dr. Lonnie Smith, was an American jazz Hammond B3 organist who was a member of the George Benson quartet in the 1960s. He recorded albums with saxophonist Lou Donaldson for Blue Note before being signed as a solo act. He owned the label Pilgrimage.
Smith toured the northeastern United States heavily during the 1970s. He concentrated largely on smaller neighborhood venues during this period. His sidemen included Donald Hahn on trumpet, Ronnie Cuber, Dave Hubbard, Bill Easley and George Adams on saxes, George Benson, Perry Hughes, Marc Silver, Billy Rogers, and Larry McGee on guitars, and Joe Dukes, Sylvester Goshay, Phillip Terrell, Marion Booker, Jimmy Lovelace, Charles Crosby, Art Gore, Norman Connors and Bobby Durham on drums.
Smith performed at several prominent jazz festivals with artists including Grover Washington Jr., Ron Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Donaldson, Ron Holloway, and Santana. He also played with musicians outside of jazz, such as Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Etta James, and Esther Phillips.
Smith died on September 29, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the age of 79.
Charles Robert Watts (June 2, 1941 – August 24, 2021) was an English drummer, best known as a member of the Rolling Stones since 1963. Originally trained as a graphic artist, he started playing drums in London’s rhythm and blues clubs, where he met Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. In January 1963, he joined their fledgling group, the Rolling Stones, as drummer, while doubling as designer of their record sleeves and tour stages. Watts was the only Rolling Stones member other than Jagger or Richards to have been featured on all of their studio albums. He cited jazz as a major influence on his drumming style. He toured with his own group, the Charlie Watts Quintet, and appeared in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club with the Charlie Watts Tentet.
In 2006, Watts was elected into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame; in the same year, Vanity Fair elected him into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. In the estimation of noted music critic Robert Christgau, Watts was “rock’s greatest drummer.” In 2016, he was ranked 12th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” list.
On August 5, 2021, it was reported that Watts had elected to sit out the resumption of the U.S. No Filter Tour due to rehabilitation from heart surgery, and that Steve Jordan will temporarily replace Watts on drums. He died on August 24, 2021, at the age of 80.
Thomas T. Hall (May 25, 1936 – August 20, 2021), nicknamed “The Storyteller”, was an American country music singer-songwriter and short-story author. He wrote 12 No. 1 hit songs, with 26 more that reached the Top 10, including the No. 1 international pop crossover hit “Harper Valley PTA” and “I Love”, which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. He is included in Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Songwriters.
Tom Hall was married to bluegrass songwriter and producer Dixie Hall from 1968 until her death on January 16, 2015. Dixie Hall was born Iris Lawrence in the West Midlands, England, in 1934 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1961. They lived in Franklin, Tennessee. Tom and Dixie met at a 1965 music industry award dinner she was invited to for having written (as Dixie Deen) the song “Truck Drivin’ Son-of-a-Gun” which became a hit for Dave Dudley.
Hall had a son, Dean Hall, from his 1961 marriage to Opal “Hootie” McKinney from Grayson, Kentucky. In the early 1980s Dean Hall, who is a singer, musician, and songwriter, worked for his father, first as a roadie and then as a guitar player, before joining Bobby Bare’s band.
Hall died at his home in Franklin, Tennessee, on August 20, 2021 at the age of 85.
UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers has passed away. The British band reports this on social media . Travers, who had cancer, turned 62.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our friend, co-founder and legend Brian David Travers,” the band members wrote. “He passed away last night in front of his family after a long battle.” Two years ago, Travers had surgery for a double brain tumor. He said afterwards that he felt better than ever. Dozens of concerts by the reggae group are planned abroad in the coming months. It is not yet known whether they will continue.
Travers founded UB40 in 1978 with some school friends. A number of them lived on benefits and the band’s name is taken from the form used to apply for such benefits, ‘Unemployment Benefit 40’. UB40 is known for hits like Red Red Wine and Falling in Love With You . The group has sold 100 million albums worldwide.
The Everly Brothers were an American country-influenced rock and roll duo, known for steel-string acoustic guitar playing and close harmony singing. Consisting of Isaac Donald “Don” Everly (February 1, 1937 – August 21, 2021) and Phillip “Phil” Everly (January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014), the duo was raised in a musical family, first appearing on radio singing along with their father Ike Everly and mother Margaret Everly as “The Everly Family” in the 1940s. When the brothers were still in high school, they gained the attention of prominent Nashville musicians like Chet Atkins, who began to promote them for national attention.
They began writing and recording their own music in 1956, and their first hit song came in 1957, with “Bye Bye Love”, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. The song hit No. 1 in the spring of 1957, and additional hits would follow through 1958, many of them written by the Bryants, including “Wake Up Little Susie”, “All I Have to Do Is Dream”, and “Problems”. In 1960, they signed with the major label Warner Bros. Records and recorded “Cathy’s Clown”, written by the brothers themselves, which was their biggest selling single. The brothers enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1961, and their output dropped off, though additional hit singles continued through 1962, with “That’s Old Fashioned (That’s the Way Love Should Be)” being their last top-10 hit.
Long-simmering disputes with Wesley Rose, the CEO of Acuff-Rose Music, which managed the group, a growing drug usage in the 1960s, as well as changing tastes in popular music, led to the group’s decline in popularity in its native U.S., though the brothers continued to release hit singles in the U.K. and Canada, and had many highly successful tours throughout the 1960s. In the early 1970s, the brothers began releasing solo recordings, and in 1973 they officially broke up. Starting in 1983, the brothers got back together, and would continue to perform periodically until Phil’s death in 2014. Don died seven years later.
The group was highly influential on the music of the generation that followed it. Many of the top acts of the 1960s were heavily influenced by the close-harmony singing and acoustic guitar playing of the Everly Brothers, including the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees, and Simon & Garfunkel. In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked the Everly Brothers No. 1 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class of 1986, and into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Don was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2019, earning the organization’s first Iconic Riff Award for his distinctive rhythm guitar intro to the Everlys’ massive 1957 hit “Wake Up Little Susie”.
Nanci Caroline Griffith (July 6, 1953 – August 13, 2021) was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, raised in Austin, Texas, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee. Griffith appeared many times on the PBS music program Austin City Limits starting in 1985 (season 10). In 1990, Griffith appeared on the Channel 4 programme Town & Country with John Prine, where she performed at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, along with Buddy Mondlock, Robert Earl Keen, and Barry “Byrd” Burton.
Griffith won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms. Griffith was awarded the Kate Wolf Memorial Award by the World Folk Music Association in 1995. In 2008, the Americana Music Association awarded her its Americana Trailblazer Award. Lyle Lovett, who contributed backing vocals to some of “The Blue Moon Orchestra’s” recordings, had won it before her.
Griffith died in Nashville on August 13, 2021, at the age of 68.
ZZ Top, an American blues rock band. They have released 15 studio albums, four live albums, seven compilation albums and 44 singles and has sold over 25 million albums in the US with additional sales internationally.
Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill (May 19, 1949 – July 28, 2021) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter, best known as the bassist and secondary lead vocalist of the American rock group ZZ Top; he also played keyboards with the band. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of ZZ Top, in 2004.
Hill, his brother, and future fellow ZZ Top member Frank Beard played in local Dallas bands the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers, and American Blues. From 1966 to 1968, American Blues played the Dallas-Fort Worth-Houston circuit. In 1969, Hill was a member of a fake version of the British band The Zombies with Beard.
In 1968, the band decided to leave the Dallas–Fort Worth area and relocate to Houston. At this time, however, Rocky Hill wanted to focus on “straight blues”, while Dusty wanted the band to rock more. Rocky left the band and Dusty and Beard moved to Houston, joining guitarist/vocalist Billy Gibbons of Houston psychedelic-rockers Moving Sidewalks in the recently formed ZZ Top just after they released their first single in 1969. Hill played bass and keyboards the bad and was secondary lead vocalist.
Hill’s on-screen appearances include Back to the Future Part III, Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme, WWE Raw and Deadwood, and as himself in the 11th-season episode of King of the Hill, “Hank Gets Dusted”, in which Hank Hill is said to be Dusty’s cousin. He also made an appearance on The Drew Carey Show as himself auditioning for a spot in Drew’s band, but is rejected because of his attachment to his trademark beard which he refers to as a ‘Texas Goatee’.
In 2000 he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, and as a result, ZZ Top canceled their European tour. Hill resumed work in 2002.
Hill was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of ZZ Top, in 2004.
On July 28, 2021, Hill died in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas, aged 72. His death was announced by his ZZ Top bandmates Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard.
Nathan Jonas “Joey” Jordison (April 26, 1975 – July 26, 2021) was an American musician and songwriter, best known as the drummer of the metal band Slipknot as well as guitarist for horror punk band Murderdolls.
Jordison grew up in Des Moines, Iowa with his parents and two sisters, and was given his first drum kit at the age of 8. He performed with many bands early in his career; then in the summer of 1995, he joined the group The Pale Ones, which would later change their name to Slipknot. Jordison played in Slipknot since their formation until his departure from the band in December 2013. Of Slipknot’s nine-member lineup, which lasted from 1999–2010, Joey was the third to join the band. He was the drummer and founder of Scar the Martyr, which formed in 2013 and disbanded in 2016.
With Slipknot, Jordison performed on four studio albums, and produced the live album 9.0: Live. Outside his major projects, Jordison performed with other metal groups such as Rob Zombie, Metallica, Korn, Ministry, Otep, and Satyricon. Jordison was also known for his session work, which includes performances on many albums for many artists. Jordison used several drum brands including Pearl and ddrum. Before his death, he was playing for the band Sinsaenum.
In a January 2018 interview (later published in the March 2018 edition of Rhythm magazine) Jordison talked about suffering from acute transverse myelitis with symptoms starting in 2010, but not being diagnosed for a long time. This progressed to the loss of use of his left leg. The neurological disease had temporarily cost him the use of his legs and caused him to be unable to play the drums before rehabilitation. He recovered with the aid of medical help and intensive work in the gym.
On July 26, 2021, Jordison died in his sleep at the age of 46.
Marcel Theo Hall (April 8, 1964 – July 16, 2021), better known by his stage name Biz Markie, was an American rapper, singer, DJ, record producer, actor, comedian, and writer. He is best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend”, which became a Top 40 hit in several countries. In 2008, “Just a Friend” made No. 100 on VH1’s list of the 100 greatest hip hop songs of all time.
Markie has been called the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop”.
In April 2020, he was hospitalized due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. As of July 2020, his wife and family have not commented publicly on his condition. In December 2020, it was reported that Markie was staying in a rehabilitation facility as a result of a stroke he had suffered after going into a diabetic coma.
On July 1, 2021, rumors of his death circulated on Twitter. His representative told Rolling Stone, “The news of Biz Markie’s passing is not true, Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best healthcare possible.”
Billy Joe Thomas (August 7, 1942 – May 29, 2021) was an American singer widely known as B. J. Thomas for his pop, country, and Christian hits of the 1960s and 1970s. He made popular recordings of “Hooked on a Feeling” (1968), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969) and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” (1975).
During the 1980s, his success on the pop charts began to wane, but many of his singles reached the upper regions on the country singles chart, including two 1983 chart toppers, “Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love” and “New Looks from an Old Lover”, as well as “Two Car Garage”, which reached number three on the country charts. In 1981, on his 39th birthday, Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Thomas scored another hit, recording “As Long as We Got Each Other”, the theme to the television series Growing Pains. The first-season theme was a solo for Thomas, but was re-recorded as a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the second and third seasons. It was re-recorded again for the show’s fourth season with British singer Dusty Springfield, but the Thomas/Warnes version was reinstated for season five and some of season seven. Thomas first released this track on his 1985 album Throwing Rocks at the Moon (Columbia Records).
Thomas also authored two books including the autobiography Home Where I Belong, and starred in the movies Jory and Jake’s Corner. Several commercial jingles, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Bell Telephone, have featured his singing voice and music. On December 31, 2011, Thomas was the featured halftime performer at the 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
On April 2, 2013, Thomas released The Living Room Sessions, an album with acoustic arrangements of well-known hits. It features guest appearances with established and emerging vocalists accompanying Thomas on seven of the album’s twelve tracks.
On December 3, 2013, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced that his 1969 single “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” would be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Thomas among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Thomas was married to singer-songwriter Gloria Richardson since December 1968. They have three daughters: Paige (born 1970), Nora (adopted from North Korea in 1978), and Erin (born in 1979). Shortly after Thomas’s career began, he became dependent on drugs and alcohol, which led to his marriage nearly ending. On January 28, 1976, Thomas became a Christian, less than a month after Gloria did. Most press sources indicated that Thomas had been sober since he and Gloria reconciled in 1976.
On March 23, 2021, Thomas announced on his official Facebook page that he had stage IV lung cancer and was being treated in Texas. He died approximately nine weeks later on May 29 at his home in Arlington, Texas, at the age of 78.
Lloyd Price (March 9, 1933 – May 3, 2021) was an American R&B vocalist, known as “Mr. Personality,” after his 1959 million-selling hit, “Personality.” His first recording, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” was a hit for Specialty Records in 1952.
Art Rupe, the owner of Specialty Records, based in Los Angeles, came to New Orleans in 1952 to record the distinctive style of rhythm and blues developing there, which had been highly successful for his competitor Imperial Records. Rupe heard Price’s song “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and wanted to record it. Because Price did not have a band, Rupe hired Dave Bartholomew to create the arrangements and Bartholomew’s band (plus Fats Domino on piano) to back Price in the recording session. The song was a massive hit. His next release, “Oooh, Oooh, Oooh,” cut at the same session, was a much smaller hit. Price continued making recordings for Specialty, but none of them reached the charts at that time.
In 1954, he was drafted into the US Army and sent to Korea. When he returned he found he had been replaced by Little Richard. In addition, his former chauffeur, Larry Williams, was also recording for the label, having released “Short Fat Fannie.”
He eventually formed KRC Records with Harold Logan and Bill Boskent. Their first single, “Just Because,” was picked up for distribution by ABC Records. From 1957 to 1959 Price recorded a series of national hits for ABC that successfully adapted the New Orleans sound, including “Stagger Lee” (which topped the Pop and R&B charts and sold over a million copies), “Personality” (which reached number 2), and “I’m Gonna Get Married” (number 3). When Price appeared on the television program American Bandstand to sing “Stagger Lee,” the producer and host of the program, Dick Clark, insisted that he alter the lyrics to tone down its violent content. “Stagger Lee” was Price’s version of an old blues standard, recorded many times previously by other artists. Greil Marcus, in a critical analysis of the song’s history, wrote that Price’s version was an enthusiastic rock rendition, “all momentum, driven by a wailing sax.” In all of these early recordings by Price (“Personality,” “Stagger Lee,” “I’m Gonna Get Married,” and others) Merritt Mel Dalton was the lead sax player; he was also in the traveling band and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Price. The personnel on the original hit recording of “Stagger Lee” included Clarence Johnson on piano, John Patton on bass, Charles McClendon and Eddie Saunders on tenor sax, Ted Curson on trumpet and Sticks Simpkins on drums.
In 1962, Price formed Double L Records with Logan. Wilson Pickett got his start on this label. In 1969, Logan was murdered. Price then founded a new label, Turntable, and opened a club by the same name at 1674 Broadway in New York City.
During the 1970s, Price helped the boxing promoter Don King promote fights, including the “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire and its accompanying concert which featured James Brown and B. B. King. He and Don King formed a record label, LPG, which issued Price’s last hit, “What Did You Do With My Love,” to limited success.
Price toured Europe in 1993 with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Gary U.S. Bonds. He performed with soul legends Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, and Ben E. King on the “Four Kings of Rhythm and Blues” tour in 2005; concerts were recorded for a DVD and a PBS television special.
On June 20, 2010, he appeared and sang in the season 1 finale of the HBO series Treme. As of 2018 he continued to sing.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Lloyd Price among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Price and his wife resided in Westchester County, New York. He died on May 3, 2021, aged 88.
Lloyd Price (March 9, 1933 – May 3, 2021) was an American R&B vocalist, known as “Mr. Personality,” after his 1959 million-selling hit, “Personality.” His first recording, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” was a hit for Specialty Records in 1952. He continued to release records, but none were as popular until several years later, when he refined the New Orleans beat and achieved a series of national hits. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Price was born and raised in Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. His mother, Beatrice Price, owned the Fish ‘n’ Fry Restaurant. Price picked up lifelong interests in business and food from her. He and his younger brother Leo were both musical.
He had formal training on trumpet and piano, sang in his church’s gospel choir, and was a member of a combo in high school.
Price and his wife resided in Westchester County, New York. He died on May 3, 2021, aged 88.
James Richard Steinman (November 1, 1947 – April 19, 2021) was an American composer, lyricist, record producer, and playwright. He also worked as an arranger, pianist and singer. His work included songs in the adult contemporary, rock and roll, dance, pop, musical theater and film score genres. Beginning his career in musical theater, Steinman’s most notable work in the area included lyrics for Whistle Down the Wind and music for Tanz der Vampire.
His work included albums such as Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell (which is one of the best selling albums of all time) and Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and producing albums for Bonnie Tyler. His most successful chart singles include Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”, Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, the Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion” and “More”, Barry Manilow’s “Read ‘Em and Weep”, Celine Dion’s cover of “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (originally released by Steinman’s project Pandora’s Box) and Boyzone’s “No Matter What” (the group’s first and only single to be popular and chart in the US). The album Bad for Good was released in his own name in 1981.
Jim Steinman is credited with book, music, and lyrics for Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, which, following a successful preview run in Manchester, had two runs on London’s West End, two runs in Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre, a German-language production in Oberhausen, and a short run at the New York City Center.
Responding to an interviewer’s assertion that his songs are tragic, Steinman said he has “never been stomped on literally. Figuratively, I am stomped on every day … anyway, that is the way I feel sometimes. I’ve never had my heart broken the way you are talking about. I’ve never been dumped… but probably because I don’t allow myself to be dumped.”
At the time of his death, Steinman lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Steinman had a stroke in 2004 and temporarily lost the ability to speak. He died from kidney failure at a hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, on April 19, 2021, at age 73.
Earl Simmons (December 18, 1970 – April 9, 2021), known by his stage name DMX (“Dark Man X”), was an American rapper, songwriter, and actor. He began rapping in the early 1990s and released his debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot in 1998, to both critical acclaim and commercial success, selling 251,000 copies within its first week of release. He released his best-selling album, … And Then There Was X, in 1999, which included the hit single “Party Up (Up in Here)”. His 2008 single “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” was one of his most popular.
DMX was featured in films such as Belly, Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Cradle 2 the Grave and Last Hour. In 2006, he starred in the reality television series DMX: Soul of a Man, which was primarily aired on the BET cable television network. In 2003, he published a book of his memoirs entitled, E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX.
On April 2, 2021, at approximately 11:00 pm, Simmons was rushed to a hospital in White Plains, New York, where he was reported to be in critical condition following a heart attack at his home possibly resulting from an overdose.
On April 3, his attorney, Murray Richman, confirmed Simmons was on life support. Later that day, Richman stated he was off life support and breathing on his own, but he clarified that evening that Simmons remained on life support and he had “been given wrong information”. That same night, tabloid journalism outlet TMZ, who first reported on the hospitalization, stated that Simmons had suffered oxygen deprivation to his brain as paramedics attempted to resuscitate him for 30 minutes. On April 4, Simmons’ former manager, Nakia Walker, stated he was in a “vegetative state” with “lung and brain failure and no current brain activity”. On April 7, his manager, Steve Rifkind, stated Simmons was comatose and that he was set to undergo tests to determine his brain’s functionality which would allow his family to, “determine what’s best from there”.
Simmons was pronounced dead at age 50 on April 9, 2021, according to a statement released by his family.