Tag: In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Tom Whitlock (1954 – 2023)

Thomas Ross Whitlock (1954 – 2023) was an American songwriter and musician, best known for his Academy Award-and Golden Globe-winning song “Take My Breath Away”, from the film Top Gun, which he co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder.

Whitlock was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. Many famous musicians visited the city as it hosted television show Ozark Jubilee, influencing Whitlock to play drums. Soon, he was a session musician working with notable composers like Wayne Carson, as well as a drummer for live bands. At the age of 15, Whitlock begun writing songs at the piano. During his high school years at Glendale High School, in Springfield, Missouri, he divided his time between studying during the day and playing drums with rock bands on the weekends throughout the Midwest. He entered Drury University in 1971 to major in music. The university honored him as Distinguished Alumni in 1998, and with an honorary doctorate in music the following year.

In 1983, Whitlock travelled to Los Angeles, California, planning to start a band there. While helping his friend Dave Concors at the now defunct studio Davlen Sound Studios, Whitlock met famed composer Giorgio Moroder as he complained about brake defects in his Ferrari. Whitlock purchased some cans of brake fluid and proceeded to fix Moroder’s car. Moroder eventually hired Whitlock for work at his studio. In the meantime, he studied recording with Moroder’s engineer Brian Reeves, given the studio was busy with films such as Scarface, Flashdance and Beverly Hills Cop, and wrote his own songs. Prior to the production of the Top Gun soundtrack, Moroder found his songwriting partners Keith Forsey and Pete Bellotte unavailable, and knowing Whitlock was a lyricist invited him for the project. Whitlock and Moroder co-wrote five songs for Top Gun including “Take My Breath Away” and the Kenny Loggins hit “Danger Zone”. ASCAP shows 113 songs registered, performed by artists such as Berlin, Bonnie Tyler, Jennifer Rush, Michael McDonald, Ray Charles, Graham Nash, Falco, Diana Ross, Teddy Pendergrass, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle.

Whitlock and Moroder had other collaborations, for the films Over the Top, American Anthem and Rambo III, and also co-wrote the official theme songs for both the 1988 Summer Olympics (“Hand In Hand”) and the 1990 FIFA World Cup (“To Be Number One”).

In 2012, the Library of Congress honored Whitlock for his songwriting contributions. Whitlock is also drummer of the Missouri band, The Dog People, with Michael Granda (aka Supe Dujour), Jim Wunderle, and Terry Wilson.

Whitlock died in Tennessee on February 17, 2023. He had Alzheimer’s disease in his later years.

In Memoriam: Kyle Jacobs (1973 – 2023)

Kyle Christopher Jacobs (1973 – 2023) was an American country music songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, pianist, as well as a staff writer for Curb Music from 2003 until his death in 2023. Jacobs wrote music on piano and guitar. His hometown is Bloomington, Minnesota.

Jacobs was the co-writer on Garth Brooks’ single, “More Than a Memory,” which became the first song to debut at number one on Billboard’s Country Singles chart. In addition to sharing author rights of Kimberley Locke’s Top 10 hit, “8th World Wonder,” Jacobs’ songs have been recorded by artists such as Trace Adkins, Jo Dee Messina, Craig Morgan,Tim McGraw, Kellie Pickler (his wife), Clay Walker, Kelly Clarkson, Scotty McCreery, and many others. Jacobs had also collaborated with top writers and artists, including Darius Rucker, Rachel Thibodeau, and Wynonna.

Jacobs starred alongside Kellie Pickler in the CMT reality series I Love Kellie Pickler.

On June 23, 2010, country music star Kellie Pickler announced her engagement to Jacobs, who proposed to her after two and a half years of dating on June 15, 2010, her late grandmother’s birthday, while on a beach at sunset. Pickler and Jacobs were married on January 1, 2011. Jacobs was also part of the founding of UTEC (United Teens Encounter Christ) in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota where he played in the music team.

Jacobs died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Nashville, Tennessee on February 17, 2023 at age 49.

In Memoriam: Tim Aymar (1963 – 2023)

Timothy L. Aymar (September 4, 1963 – February 14, 2023) was an American heavy metal singer. He was best known as the vocalist of progressive metal band Pharaoh and for his work with Chuck Schuldiner in Control Denied.

Often known for his strong vocals on Chuck Schuldiner’s Control Denied band but his music career as a vocalist started years before that. He had been a vocalist since 1985 with the band 313, then he joined Triple x and released an album with them. Then he joined Psych Scream, where his bandmate Jim Dofka introduced him to the music of Chuck Schuldiner and his band Death. Schuldiner heard Aymar’s voice on Psycho Scream and contacted him through his bandmate Jim Dofka. After a three-song audition, he joined Schuldiner’s new band Control Denied as the vocalist.

Aymar died on February 14, 2023, at the age of 59.

In Memoriam: David Jude Jolicoeur (1968 – 2023)

David Jude Jolicoeur (September 21, 1968 – February 12, 2023), also known under the stage name Trugoy the Dove and more recently Dave, was an American rapper, producer, and one third of the hip hop trio De La Soul.

During his time with De La Soul, Jolicoeur went under the outlandish name Trugoy the Dove (or simply Trugoy or Dove), before simply performing under the name Dave.. Early on, Jolicoeur sported a unique style of African medallions, peace signs and uneven dreadlocks (known as the “De La Do”).

Jolicoeur was also a member of the Spitkicker collective. He was widely recognized for his rap in the second verse of the popular Gorillaz song “Feel Good Inc.”

Jolicoeur died on February 12, 2023, at the age of 54.

In Memoriam: AKA (1988 – 2023)

Kiernan Jarryd Forbes (January 28, 1988 – February 10, 2023), known professionally as AKA, was a South African rapper. Born and raised in Cape Town, Forbes gained recognition after releasing his single “Victory Lap” from his debut studio album, Altar Ego (2010).

Forbes continued his success by releasing studio albums which include Levels (2014), Touch My Blood (2018), Bhovamania (2020), and the collaborative album with Anatii, titled Be Careful What You Wish For (2017).

In April 2018, Forbes was featured as a special guest on WWE Live events, which were held in Johannesburg and Cape Town. In 2019, he was the roastee for the Comedy Central Roast special.

On February 10, 2023, Forbes was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Durban.

In Memoriam: Burt Bacharach (1928 – 2023)

Burt Freeman Bacharach (May 12, 1928 – February 8, 2023) was an American composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist who composed hundreds of pop songs from the late 1950s through the 1980s, many in collaboration with lyricist Hal David. A six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner, Bacharach’s songs have been recorded by more than 1,000 different artists. As of 2014, he had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits. He was one of the most important composers of 20th-century popular music.

His music is characterized by unusual chord progressions, influenced by his background in jazz harmony, and uncommon selections of instruments for small orchestras. Most of Bacharach and David’s hits were written specifically for and performed by Dionne Warwick but earlier associations (from 1957 to 1963) saw the composing duo work with Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels and Jerry Butler. Following the initial success of these collaborations, Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, and the Carpenters, among numerous other artists. He arranged, conducted, and produced much of his recorded output.

Songs that he co-wrote which have topped the Billboard Hot 100 include “This Guy’s in Love with You” (1968), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969), “(They Long to Be) Close to You” (1970), “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (1981), and “That’s What Friends Are For” (1986).

A significant figure in easy listening music, Bacharach is described by writer William Farina as “a composer whose venerable name can be linked with just about every other prominent musical artist of his era”. In later years, his songs were newly appropriated for the soundtracks of major feature films, by which time “tributes, compilations, and revivals were to be found everywhere.” He influenced later musical movements such as chamber pop and Shibuya-kei. In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked Bacharach and David at number 32 for their list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. In 2012, the duo received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first time the honor has been given to a songwriting team.

Bacharach died at his home in Los Angeles on February 8, 2023, at the age of 94.

In Memoriam: Philip Trevor Spalding (1957 – 2023)

Philip Trevor Spalding (November 19, 1957 – February 6, 2023) was an English bass player. He was best known as a session musician and player of Fender Precision Bass guitars. He played and appeared with performing artists such as Mick Jagger, Seal, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Elton John and Randy Crawford.

At an early age he was a successful child model and appeared in a television advertisement for Smiths Crisps. Spalding was a computer operator for a high street bank, before joining rock artist Bernie Tormé in 1976. Later he joined Original Mirrors before beginning a collaboration with Toyah, in December 1980. Whilst with The Toyah band he recorded and co-wrote songs for studio albums and toured with the band, until 1983. Later he was a member of GTR and Mike Oldfield’s band. More recently he appeared on albums by Michel Polnareff, Suggs, Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue.

Spalding also recorded all bass tracks on the Lion King soundtrack studio album.

As someone formerly affected by hepatitis C, he appeared on BBC Oxford on 28 July 2008 to promote a vaccine trial for the disease. Phil started a patient support group called Hep C Positive in Swindon and worked with the charity Liver4Life to raise awareness of hepatitis C.

In February 2012 he joined the Simon Townshend band for the ‘Secret Weapon’ UK tour in support of the album Looking Out, Looking In. Spalding played bass with The Who at their promotional acoustic concerts at Pryzm in Kingston, London on 12 February 2020.

Spalding was a Freemason and was a member of Westminster City School Lodge no. 4305. He died in February 2023, at the age of 65.

In Memoriam: Butch Miles (1944 – 2023)

Butch Miles (born Charles J. Thornton, Jr., July 4, 1944 – February 2, 2023) was an American jazz drummer. He had played with the Count Basie Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Tony Bennett.

Miles, who cites Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Jo Jones as favorite drummers, began playing snare drum at the age of nine and majored in music at West Virginia State University (1962–1966). After receiving his degree, he went on tour with the Iris Bell Trio. He was Mel Torme’s drummer for 3 1/2 years and it was Torme and Buddy Rich who recommended Miles to Count Basie when a drummer was needed. Miles was with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1975 to 1979, returning for ten years from 1997 to 2007.

From Count Basie’s autobiography (published in 1985): “Butch came to us from Mel Torme’s outfit. He was a real crowd pleaser, like Buddy Rich and Sonny Payne, and he picked up on things very nicely, and he was also interested in sticking around for a while, which he did, for about four years.”

Miles was leader of the group Jazz Express in the 1980s and 1990s. He has performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival. He is a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame 2011 class of inductees. He is currently retired from the School of Music at Texas State University-San Marcos.

In March 2014. Miles was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. which has no treatment other than a lung transplant. He received a lung transplant and went into a period of recovery.

In Memoriam: Charlie Thomas (1937 – 2023)

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.

In Memoriam: Donnie Marsico (1954 – 2023)

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.

In Memoriam: Dean Daughtry (1946 – 2023)

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.

In Memoriam: Floyd Sneed (1942 – 2023)

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.

Sneed died on January 27, 2023, at the age of 80.

In Memoriam: Tom Verlaine (1949 – 2023)

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.

In Memoriam: Barrett Strong (1941 – 2023)

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.

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.