Charles Thomas (April 7, 1937 – January 31, 2023) was an American singer best known for his work with The Drifters. Thomas was performing with The Five Crowns at the Apollo Theater in 1958 when George Treadwell fired his group, called The Drifters. Treadwell recruited the Five Crowns to become the new Drifters.
The new Drifters’ first release was the 1959 hit “There Goes My Baby”. Charlie was lead singer on two of the group’s top 40 hits, “Sweets for My Sweet” and “When My Little Girl Is Smiling”.
Charlie Thomas was the father of Charles “Happy” Thomas Jr. and grandfather of hip hop producer Charlie “Bambu” Thomas.
Thomas was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of the Drifters and was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999. Thomas died from liver cancer on January 31, 2023 at the age of 85.
Donnie Marsico, (May 9, 1954 – January 31, 2023) whose voice was considered “one of the Pittsburgh music scene’s biggest assets,” died Tuesday, at 68, of cancer.
Marsico, an Aspinwall native and Fox Chapel High School graduate, was best known here as the singer for the rock ’n’ soul band Sweet Breeze, which he led for the better part of 40 years. He also performed with the MVPs and Souled Out and led the Donnie Marsico Band, which made two country albums in Nashville.
In August 1978, Sweet Breeze was part of a bill at Three Rivers Stadium with The Beach Boys, the Steve Miller Band, and Jan and Dean.
By the late ‘80s, Marsico was in hot demand, becoming a singer for the 25th-anniversary reunion version of The Jaggerz, the regional band known for the hit “The Rapper.”
In 1990, Marsico released a popular single, “Hold On To The Night,” which was highlighted in Billboard magazine, and in 1991 he added vocals to the Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers album “Swimming with the Sharks.”
The “biggest assets” quote came from a PG review when Marsico opened for Kentucky HeadHunters at the Syria Mosque in 1991, after the release of one of his country records.
Outside of his band work, he also recorded commercial jingles for Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Cedar Point and Lays, among others.
“It is with Great Sadness and a broken heart we announce the passing of our beloved Brother Donnie,” Sweet Breeze said in a statement. “We were fortunate enough to spend the great majority of our lives together doing what we all loved and were able to share in all of the good and bad life had to offer. Donnie fought his battle with cancer bravely, he never gave up and remained positive until the end. We will never forget him, we will always remember him. We loved him unconditionally…”
“He painted a picture of life being something to be appreciated,” his son Dan wrote in a Facebook post four years ago. “He taught us about the complexities of music to be considered as well as enjoyed. He made each of us feel individually and equally special, loved, and unique.”
The Jaggerz are an American rock band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They came to national attention with their single “The Rapper” which was released on the Kama Sutra label. “The Rapper” was No. 1 in the Record World Charts and No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1970. Having sold over one million copies, the recording received a gold record awarded by the R.I.A.A.
The band’s name derives from the Western Pennsylvania English term, “jagger,” meaning any small, sharp-pointed object, typically thorns, spines, and prickles. They were managed by The Skyliners manager, Joe Rock.
Dean Daughtry (September 8, 1946 – January 26, 2023) was an American musician. He was the keyboard player with the Classics IV after Joe Wilson departed. They had a 1968 #3 US/#46 UK/#1 Can hit with “Spooky”. He co-founded the Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1971, and was their sole constant member until retiring in 2020. They had two US top ten hits: “So in to You” (in 1977) and “Imaginary Lover” (in 1978), both of which reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 survey, and #2 and #9 in Canada.
Daughtry died in Huntsville, Alabama, on January 26, 2023, at the age of 76.
Floyd Chester Sneed (November 22, 1942 – January 27, 2023) was a Canadian drummer, best known for his work with the band Three Dog Night.
Born on November 22, 1942, in the Canadian city of Calgary, Sneed grew up in a musical family (his parents were both musicians at their church) and became interested in drums at an early age. His first drum kit was a gift from his older sister Maxine, who at the time was married to the musician-actor Tommy Chong. He was in a band called the “Calgary Shades” that included his pianist older brother Bernie Sneed (1940–2016). He soon began performing in the Vancouver area as part of Chong’s band, Little Daddy and the Bachelors.
In 1966, Sneed formed his own band and moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1968, he met a trio of vocalists (Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells), who had a contract with Dunhill Records and were looking for backing musicians. Sneed joined their new band, Three Dog Night, which became a commercial success in the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s. Sneed sang backup on only one song with the band; he did the deep vocal on “Joy to the World”, singing the lyric “I wanna tell you.” After Three Dog Night broke up in 1977, he continued to work with other groups, including an extended tour with The Ohio Players. He and other backing musicians from Three Dog Night worked together in a short-lived group named SS Fools. He reappeared briefly with the reincarnated Three Dog Night in the mid-1980s. In 1990, he had a minor role playing a drummer in a Chong film, Far Out Man. In 2002, he toured and recorded with the band K.A.T.T., and has formed his own band called Same Dog New Tricks.
Tom Verlaine (born Thomas Miller, December 13, 1949 – January 28, 2023) was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, best known as the frontman of the New York City rock band Television.
Verlaine was born Thomas Miller into a Jewish family in Denville, New Jersey, on December 13, 1949. He moved to Wilmington, Delaware, with his family at age of six. He began studying piano at an early age, but switched to saxophone in middle school after hearing a record by Stan Getz. Jazz saxophonists such as John Coltrane and Albert Ayler inspired him. Verlaine initially was unimpressed with the role of the guitar in both rock music and jazz, but was inspired to take up the instrument after hearing the Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” during his adolescence, at which point he began a long period of experimentation to develop a personal style. A later musical influence of Verlaine’s became jazz musician Miles Davis’ electric-period recordings, particularly the Japanese LPs Agharta (1975) and Dark Magus (1977), which he was able to obtain as imports.
Verlaine released a self-titled solo album that began a fruitful 1980s solo career. He took up residence in England for a brief period in response to the positive reception his work had received there and in Europe at large. David Bowie covered Verlaine’s Kingdom Come for his Scary Monsters and Super Creeps album in 1980. In the 1990s he collaborated with different artists, including Patti Smith, and composed a film score for Love and a .45. In the early 1990s, Television reformed to record one studio album (Television) and a live recording (Live at the Academy, 1992); they reunited periodically for touring. Verlaine released his first new album in many years in 2006, titled Songs and Other Things. In the 2010s, he kept on touring with Television, performing Marquee Moon it its entirety: he notably toured in Europe in 2014 and 2016.
Verlaine died in New York City on January 28, 2023, after a brief illness, at the age of 73.
Barrett Strong (February 5, 1941 – January 29, 2023) was an American singer and songwriter. Strong was the first artist to record a hit for Motown, although he is best known for his work as a songwriter, particularly in association with producer Norman Whitfield. Among his most famous work at Motown, Strong wrote the lyrics for many of the songs recorded by the Temptations.
After Motown moved its operations base from Detroit, Michigan, to Los Angeles, California, Strong left the label and resumed his singing career. He signed with Epic in 1972. Strong left the label for Capitol Records, where he recorded two albums in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, Strong recorded “Rock It Easy” on an independent label, and wrote “You Can Depend on Me”, which appeared on their The Second Time album (1988). He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.
Strong released his album, Stronghold II, which he wrote and composed in collaboration with Eliza Neals in 2008, in digital format only.
In 2010, Strong appeared in “Misery”, his first music video in his fifty years of recording music, co-produced by Eliza Neals and Martin “Tino” Gross with Strong at the helm.
Strong died on January 29, 2023, at the age of 81.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
18 is a collaborative studio album by guitarist Jeff Beck and actor, producer and musician Johnny Depp, released on July 15, 2022 on Rhino Records. The 13-track collection features two Depp-penned originals and a selection of covers of songs by Killing Joke, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, The Velvet Underground, The Everly Brothers and Janis Ian. Upon release, the album received mixed reviews from music critics.
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.
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.