Anton Fier (June 20, 1956 – September 21, 2022) was an American drummer, producer, composer, and bandleader. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, United States.
Fier was an early member of The Lounge Lizards and The Feelies. He was in The Lodge (with John Greaves), worked with Pere Ubu, was briefly in the Voidoids, and founded The Golden Palominos. The 1978 Pere Ubu EP titled Datapanik in the Year Zero was dedicated to Fier.
Fier collaborated extensively with Bill Laswell and also toured and recorded with Hüsker Dü guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Bob Mould. He also played with bassist Jack Bruce and Japanese guitarist Kenji Suzuki on the 1987 album Inazuma Super Session – “Absolute Live!!”
Fier played and recorded on the John Zorn-led album Locus Solus in 1983. They recorded a live album for Zorn’s 50th birthday celebration: 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 3 of the 50th birthday series on Tzadik Records.
In 1984 he played on Laurie Anderson’s Mister Heartbreak.
Fier also produced several albums, such as the 1988 album of Drivin’ N Cryin’, Whisper Tames The Lion, a 2009 album by guitar virtuoso Jim Campilongo titled Orange, and Lianne Smith’s Two Sides of a River, on which Fier also played drums.
Fier died on September 21, 2022, at the age of 66.
John Hartman (March 18, 1950 – September 22, 2022) was an American drummer who was a co-founder and original drummer of the Doobie Brothers. At the band’s inception, Hartman was the sole drummer. However, in late 1971, the group added second drummer Michael Hossack, and the dual-drummers formation remained until 2016 when Ed Toth became the band’s sole drummer. (Hossack was replaced in 1973 by Keith Knudsen.)
Hartman played on all of the Doobie Brothers’ major hits of the 1970s with both Tom Johnston and Michael McDonald. He left early in 1979 following a promotional tour in support of the award-winning Minute by Minute album to look after Arabian horses on his California ranch.
Hartman was enticed to join twelve Doobies alumni (including drummers Hossack, Knudsen, and Hartman’s own 1979 replacement Chet McCracken) for a brief benefit tour in 1987. Hartman subsequently rejoined when the band was reconstituted the following year. He played on the reunion albums Cycles (1989) and Brotherhood (1991) as well as the accompanying promotional tours. However, following a 1992 alumni reunion for the benefit of terminally ill percussionist Bobby LaKind, Hartman retired permanently from the band. In typical Doobies fashion, he was replaced by his former partner, Keith Knudsen.
Hartman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Doobie Brothers in 2020.
On September 22, 2022, The Doobie Brothers announced Hartman’s death several days earlier, at the age of 72.
Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis Jr. (May 27, 1935 – September 12, 2022) was an American jazz composer, pianist, and radio personality. Lewis recorded over 80 albums and received five gold records and three Grammy Awards in his career.
Ramsey Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Ramsey Lewis Sr. and Pauline Lewis. He began taking piano lessons at the age of four. As a young man, Lewis played with a number of local ensembles, such as Edward Virgil Abner’s Knights of Music. Lewis would eventually join a jazz group called the clefs. He later formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio with drummer Isaac “Red” Holt and bassist Eldee Young. They eventually joined up with Chess Records.
In 1956, the trio issued their debut album, Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of Swing. Following their 1965 hit “The In Crowd” (the single reached No. 5 on the pop charts, and the album No. 2) they concentrated more on pop material. Young and Holt left in 1966 to form Young-Holt Unlimited and were replaced by Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White. White left to form Earth, Wind & Fire and was replaced by Morris Jennings in 1970. Later, Frankie Donaldson and Bill Dickens replaced Jennings and Eaton; Felton Crews also appeared on many 1980s releases.
By 1966, Lewis was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, having topped the charts with “The In Crowd”, “Hang On Sloopy”, and “Wade in the Water”. All three singles each sold over one million copies and were awarded gold discs. Many of his recordings attracted a large non-jazz audience. In the 1970s, Lewis often played electric piano, although by later in the decade he was sticking to acoustic and using an additional keyboardist in his groups.
In addition to recording and performing, Lewis hosted the weekly syndicated radio program Legends of Jazz, created in 1990, syndicated by United Stations Radio Networks. He also hosted the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on Chicago “smooth jazz” radio station WNUA (95.5 FM). In December 2006, this morning show became part of Broadcast Architecture’s Smooth Jazz Network, simulcasting on other smooth jazz stations across the country until its cancellation in May 2009, when WNUA switched over to a Spanish format.
In 2006, a well-received 13-episode Legends of Jazz television series hosted by Lewis was broadcast on public TV nationwide and featured live performances by a variety of jazz artists including Larry Gray, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joey Defrancesco, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Benny Golson, Pat Metheny, and Tony Bennett.
Lewis died at his home in Chicago, on September 12, 2022, at the age of 87.
Joseph Sonny West (July 30, 1937 – September 8, 2022) was an American songwriter and musician, best known as the co-writer of two of Buddy Holly’s biggest hits: “Oh, Boy!” and “Rave On”.
West was born near Lubbock, Texas, the fifth and youngest child of Joseph William, a sharecropper, and Alberta Grimes West. The family moved numerous times around Texas and New Mexico, ending up in Levelland, Texas.
West won a BMI songwriter ‘Million-Air’ achievement award in 2000 for “Oh, Boy!”; this award is given to a songwriter who has had a song play more than one million times on the radio. In 2011 Rolling Stone ranked “Rave On” as the number 154 greatest song of all time. On September 15, 2016 West was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock.
West died in Grove, Oklahoma on September 8, 2022, at the age of 85.
Luke Bell was (1990 – 2022) an American country musician and singer-songwriter from Cody, Wyoming, United States. According to Rolling Stone, Bell “… plays classic honky-tonk with a wink and a yodel that summons the sleeping ghosts of country better than any voodoo spell ever could.”
Bell attended Cody High School, graduating in 2008. Bell released his self-titled debut album in 2012. In 2014, Bell released his second full-length album, titled Don’t Mind If I Do.
In 2014, Bell recorded a Daytrotter session. According to Daytrotter, “The people that Bell writes about have bigger than life personalities …” and “Bell is, without a doubt, one of the most talented country and western songwriters working …”.
While in Tucson, Arizona for a concert, Bell disappeared on August 20, 2022. He was found dead nine days later at the age of 32. Bell had recently changed medication for treatment of his Bipolar disorder which was believed to have factored into his disappearance.
Joey DeFrancesco (April 10, 1971 – August 25, 2022) was an American jazz organist, trumpeter, saxophonist, and occasional singer. He released more than 30 albums under his own name, and recorded extensively as a sideman with such leading jazz performers as trumpeter Miles Davis, saxophonist Houston Person, and guitarist John McLaughlin. DeFrancesco signed his first record deal at the age of 16 and over the years recorded and toured internationally with David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Larry Coryell, Frank Wess, Benny Golson, James Moody, Steve Gadd, Danny Gatton, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, George Benson, Pat Martino, Tony Monaco, John Scofield, Lee Ritenour, Joe Lovano, and had prominent session work with a variety of musicians, including Ray Charles, Bette Midler, Janis Siegel, Diana Krall, Jimmy Smith, and Van Morrison.
Mable John (November 3, 1930 – August 25, 2022) was an American blues vocalist and was the first female signed by Berry Gordy to Motown’s Tamla label.
John was born in Bastrop, Louisiana, on November 3, 1930, the eldest of at least nine siblings. At a very young age, she and her parents moved north into Arkansas, where her father got a job in a paper mill near Cullendale, where four of her brothers (including R&B singer Little Willie John) and two sisters were born.
In 1960, she released her first Tamla single, “Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like That?,” a romantic blues number, to no success. John followed with “No Love” in June of that year and then with “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” by year’s end. While Motown was beginning to have success with acts like the Miracles and the Marvelettes (and later Martha & the Vandellas and the Supremes, both of whom had sung background vocals for John) that appealed to teenagers and young adults, it was making no impact in the established blues market. As a result, Gordy soon thinned out his roster of early blues artists. While John continued to be used as a background singer, Gordy dissolved her contract in 1962.
After leaving Motown, John spent several years as a Raelette, backing many Ray Charles hits. In 1966 she attempted a solo career again, signing with Stax Records. Her first single with the label was “Your Good Thing (Is About to End).” The song peaked at #6 on the R&B chart, and even managed to cross over onto pop radio, peaking at #95 there. She released six more singles for the label, none of which captured her first single’s success. After leaving Stax Records in 1968, John rejoined the Raelettes for several years. She left secular music in 1973, and began managing Christian gospel acts, occasionally returning to the studio as a singer.
John died in Los Angeles on August 25, 2022, at the age of 91.
Monnette Sudler (June 5, 1952 – August 21, 2022) was an American jazz guitarist from Philadelphia.
Sudler was born Monnette Goldman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Lea Goldman, married Truman W. Sudler in 1957.
Her first exposure to jazz was listening to her great-uncle play piano. When she was fifteen, she took lessons on guitar at the Wharton Center in Philadelphia. She could play drums and piano, and she also composed, arranged, sang, and wrote poetry. Early in her career she worked with vibraphonist Khan Jamal in the Sounds of Liberation. In the 1970s she studied at Berklee School of Music in Boston and in the 1980s at Temple University.
During her career, she worked with Kenny Barron, Hamiet Bluiett, Arthur Blythe, Dameronia, Sonny Fortune, Dave Holland, Freddie Hubbard, Joseph Jarman, Hugh Masekela, Cecil McBee, David Murray, Sunny Murray, Trudy Pitts, Odean Pope, Don Pullen, Sam Rivers, Shirley Scott, Archie Shepp, Leon Thomas, Steve Turre, Cedar Walton, Grover Washington Jr., and Reggie Workman.
Sudler died from lung disease on August 21, 2022, at the age of 70.
Lamont Herbert Dozier (June 16, 1941 – August 8, 2022) was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer, from Detroit, Michigan. He co-wrote and produced 14 US Billboard number 1 hits and 4 number ones in the UK.
Dozier was a member of Holland–Dozier–Holland, the songwriting and production team responsible for much of the Motown sound and numerous hit records by artists such as Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, The Four Tops, and The Isley Brothers. Along with Brian Holland, Dozier served as the team’s musical arranger and producer, while Eddie Holland concentrated mainly on lyrics and vocal production.
Along with the Holland Brothers, Dozier followed his work for Motown Records as founder and owner of Invictus Records and Hot Wax Records, producing top-charting hits for acts Freda Payne, Honey Cone, Chairmen of the Board, and 100 Proof Aged in Soul.
Dozier was married three times. His first two marriages, to Ann Brown and Daphne Dumas, ended in divorce. His third marriage, to Barbara Ullman, lasted from 1980 until her death in 2021. They had three children and he had three children from his previous relationships.
Dozier died at his home near Scottsdale, Arizona on August 8, 2022, at the age of 81.
Dame Olivia Newton-John AC DBE (September 26, 1948 – August 8, 2022) was a British-born Australian singer, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, and activist. She was a four-time Grammy Award and 14 of her albums (including two Platinum and four 2× Platinum) have been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With global sales of more than 100 million records, Newton-John is one of the best-selling music artists from the second half of the 20th century to the present.
In 1978, she starred in the musical film Grease, whose soundtrack remains one of the world’s best-selling albums of recorded music. It features two major hit duets with co-star John Travolta: “You’re the One That I Want” – which ranks as one of the best-selling singles of all time – and “Summer Nights”. Her signature solo recordings include the Record of the Year Grammy winner “I Honestly Love You” (1974) and “Physical” (1981) – Billboard’s Top Hot 100 Single of the 1980s – plus her cover of “If Not for You” (1971), “Let Me Be There” (1973), “If You Love Me (Let Me Know)” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “Sam” (1977), “Hopelessly Devoted to You” (also from Grease), “A Little More Love” (1978) and, from the 1980 film Xanadu, “Magic” and “Xanadu” (with Electric Light Orchestra). Plus “Heart Attack” (1982) and “Twist of Fate” (from the 1983 film Two of a Kind).
Newton-John was an activist for environmental and animal rights issues.
In May 2017, it was announced that Newton-John’s breast cancer had returned and metastasized to her lower back Her back pains had initially been misdiagnosed as sciatica.
Newton-John subsequently revealed this was actually her third bout with breast cancer, as she had privately battled a recurrence of the disease in 2013 in addition to her initial 1992 fight. With the 2017 recurrence the cancer had spread to her bones and progressed to stage IV.
Newton-John experienced a great deal of pain from the metastatic bone lesions and had openly spoken of using cannabis oil to ease her pain. She was an advocate for the use of medical cannabis. Her daughter Chloe owns a cannabis farm in Oregon.
She died on August 8, 2022 at her home in California.
Michael Henderson (July 7, 1951 – July 19, 2022) was an American bass guitarist and vocalist. He was known for his work with Miles Davis in the early 1970s and on early fusion albums such as Jack Johnson, Live-Evil, and Agharta, along with a series of his own R&B/soul hits and others featuring him on vocals, particularly the Norman Connors-produced hit “You Are My Starship” in 1976 and other songs in the mid to late-1970s.
Henderson died on July 19, 2022, at his home in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 71.
William “Poogie” Hart, (1945 – 2022) vocalist and founding member of the Philadelphia soul group the Delfonics, has died, TMZ and The Philadelphia Inquirer report. Hart was taken to Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia after experiencing difficulty breathing and died Thursday night due to complications from surgery, according to the reports. He was 77.
The Delfonics are an American R&B/soul vocal group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Delfonics were most popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their most notable hits include “La-La (Means I Love You)”, “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”, “Break Your Promise”, “I’m Sorry”, and “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)”. Their hit songs were primarily written by lead vocalist and founding member William “Poogie” Hart, and arranger and producer Thom Bell.
Their songs have been used in film soundtracks, including Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 movie Jackie Brown, in which “La-La (Means I Love You)” and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” underscore the pivotal relationship between the characters played by Pam Grier and Robert Forster. Their songs “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)” and “Funny Feeling” were used in the video game Grand Theft Auto V on the fictional radio station The Lowdown 91.1.
William “Poogie” Hart continued touring with his group, Johnson and Fleming while Wilbert Hart continued touring with his group, Branch and Salaam. Randy Cain reunited with the brothers at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Awards in Philadelphia to perform for the first time together in years, and were honored with the Pioneer Award. Soon after, Cain joined William Hart on his tour and stayed with that unit until his death in 2009. William Hart, along with Russell Thompkins Jr., the original lead singer of The Stylistics and Ted Mills the original lead singer of Blue Magic came together to record a CD entitled, The Three Tenors of Soul, which was produced by songwriter and producer, Bobby Eli and released in 2007.
Randy Cain died on April 9, 2009, at age 63.
Major Harris died on November 9, 2012, at age 65.
As of 2020, William Hart and Wilbert Hart celebrated their 55th anniversary in the music industry with Lead singer William “Poogie” Hart passing on July 14, 2022, at age 77.
Paul Anthony Ryder (April 14, 1964 – July 15, 2022) was an English musician. He was a bass player and a founding member of the Manchester band Happy Mondays.
Ryder was an active member of the band through most of its history from its inception in 1983 through to his death. His bandmates include his brother Shaun Ryder, Gary Whelan, Mark “Bez” Berry, Paul Davies and Mark Day. It was during his tenure with the band that it had its biggest successes with albums such as Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches which sold more than 350,000 copies in the UK.
Ryder lived in Los Angeles where he continued to write music. He supported Tom Tom Club on two of the dates on the North America tour in October 2010, playing gigs in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He was joined by Eddy Gronfier, Neo Garcia on drums and Matt Cheadle on guitar.
Happy Mondays are an English rock band formed in Salford in 1980. The original line-up was Shaun Ryder (vocals), his brother Paul Ryder (bass), Gary Whelan (drums), Paul Davis (keyboard), and Mark Day (guitar). Mark “Bez” Berry later joined the band onstage as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta joined as a second vocalist in 1990.
The group’s work bridged the Manchester independent rock music of the 1980s and the emerging UK rave scene, drawing influence from funk, house, and psychedelia to pioneer the Madchester sound. They experienced their commercial peak with the releases Bummed (1988), Madchester Rave On (1989), and Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches (1990), with the last going platinum in the UK. They disbanded in 1993, and have reformed several times in subsequent decades.
Manuel Charlton (July 25, 1941 – July 5, 2022) was a founding member of the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth and was their lead guitarist from 1968 to 1990, has died at the age of 80. Born in Andalusia, Spain in 1941, Charlton moved with his family to Dunfermline, Scotland as a young child. It was there that in 1968, he would co-found the band Nazareth with vocalist Dan McCafferty, bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet.
Bernard Belle (November 12, 1964 – June 23, 2022) was an American composer, producer, and musician. After starting his career as an R&B guitarist, Belle became known as a songwriter for Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and a producer of gospel music. Belle died Thursday, June 23, at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital in Georgia, at the age of 57. Belle’s official cause of death was due to congestive heart failure, according to his sister and primary caretaker, Regina Belle, a Grammy Award-winning recording artist, who posted on her Facebook Page, “The smartest part of me has passed on. My brother, Bernard Belle was brilliant. Bernie, please help me to shine from heaven. I love you.”
Belle grew up in Englewood, New Jersey and performed as a musician while still a student at Dwight Morrow High School.
Bernard Belle is notable for his partnership with producer Teddy Riley and his collaborations with Michael Jackson. He is credited with writing and co-writing “Remember the Time”, “Privacy” and “Why You Wanna Trip on Me”. He began working with Teddy Riley in 1986. Together, they became the pioneers of the new jack swing era of music. He wrote and produced for, among others, Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Patti LaBelle, Aaron Hall, Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure!, and Today.
After dedicating his life to Christ in 1994, Belle still remained one of the most sought after producer/musicians in the Gospel music industry. He performed with Donnie McClurkin, Shirley Caesar, Richard Smallwood, Marvin Sapp, Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams, Tye Tribbett, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Donald Lawrence, Smokie Norful, Hezekiah Walker and BeBe & CeCe Winans.
Belle’s name appears on over 70 million records worldwide as a producer, writer, or musician. He received four Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, two Soul Train Music Awards, over a dozen ASCAP Awards, and nominations for Stella and GMA Dove Awards.