To Those We Lost in 2017, Part Two


By Annie Zaleski

Where musician deaths are concerned, 2017 was another tough year: We lost Tom PettyWalter BeckerGrant HartCharles Bradley and Gregg Allman, and that’s just to name a few. (Part one of the list can be found here.) KEXP is celebrating the lives of all these artists on the air, today, Thursday, December 14th. Join DJs John Richards, Troy Nelson, and Kevin Cole as they share stories and songs from those we lost in 2017 as well as those in late 2016 who passed after last year’s tribute show. Below, we’ve gathered videos from just a few of these memorable musicians. They may be gone, but their music lives on forever.

Saxa (June 5, 1930 – May 3, 2017)

The Jamaican saxophonist honed his chops playing with Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken and Desmond Dekker, but found great success as a member of The Beat (a.k.a. The English Beat in the U.S.) during the group’s early ’80s heyday.

Robert Miles (November 3, 1969 – May 9, 2017)

The electronic artist, producer, and DJ was best known for his 1996 global trance hit “Children.”

Keith Mitchell of Mazzy Star (died May 14, 2017)

Drummer Keith Mitchell was a member of Opal, Green on Red and, most significantly, Mazzy Star. He played on all four of the latter band’s albums, including 1993’s platinum-selling So Tonight That I Might See.

Chris Cornell (July 20, 1964 – May 17, 2017)

A Seattle native, Chris Cornell was the magnetic frontman of the rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave. His emotive yowl and distinctive voice helped both of those bands dominate the charts in the ’90s and well into the ’00s. Cornell was also the founder and figurehead of Temple of the Dog, a group memorializing the late Andrew Wood. And, as a solo artist, he contributed many songs to movie soundtracks and was known for epic acoustic live shows full of storytelling and covers.

Frankie Paul (October 19, 1965 – May 18, 2017)

The Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist was best known for songs such as “Sara” and “Worries in the Dance” and “I Know the Score.”

Gregg Allman (December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017)

The songwriter co-founded the Allman Brothers Band with brother Duane Allman in 1969. The Southern rock band was known for songs such as “Midnight Rider,” “Melissa” and “Whipping Post,” as well as the 1971 live album At Fillmore East. Allman was also a prolific solo artist and released the posthumous album Southern Blood in September 2017.

T.C. Izlam (died June 8, 2017)

The former International Spokesman for the Universal Zulu Nation was also a musician who popularized hip-step and collaborated with Kurtis Blow on the Tricka Technology LP.

Sonny Knight (May 17, 1934 – June 16, 2017)

Knight recorded solo soul singles in the ’60s and was a member of the ’70s funk group Haze, but found acclaim in recent years as the leader of the Minneapolis-based Sonny Knight and the Lakers, which released two well-regarded albums, 2013’s I’m Still Here and 2016’s Sooner or Later.

Prodigy of Mobb Deep (November 2, 1974 – June 20, 2017)

Prodigy was part of the influential New York rap duo Mobb Deep, who rose to fame as part of the gangsta rap movement of the ’90s.

Dave Rosser of the Afghan Whigs (August 3, 1966 – June 27, 2017)

Rosser was a guitarist in the Afghan Whigs since 2014’s Do the Beast, and also collaborated with frontman Greg Dulli in the Gutter Twins and the Twilight Singers.

Gary DeCarlo (June 5, 1942 – June 28, 2017)

DeCarlo is a pop singer and songwriter best known for writing and recording the indelible hit “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” under the group moniker Steam.

John Blackwell Jr. (September 9, 1973 – July 4, 2017)

The South Carolina native was a drummer for Prince’s The New Power Generation and also performed with “Bootsy” Collins, Patti LaBelle, D’Angelo and Justin Timberlake.

Pierre Henry (December 9, 1927 – July 5, 2017)

The French composer Pierre Henry was an electronic music pioneer who was an early proponent of musique concrète, and crafted compositions which have been sampled by D’Angelo, Hooverphonic, and A Tribe Called Quest.

Melvyn “Deacon” Jones (December 12, 1943 – July 6, 2017)

Trumpeter and organist Jones was a founding member of the Gary, Indiana, ’60s garage-soul band Baby Huey & The Babysitters. He later worked with Curtis Mayfield, Freddie King, and John Lee Hooker.

Ray Phiri (March 23, 1947 – July 12, 2017)

The South African musician contributed vocals, guitars, and arrangements to Paul Simon’s Graceland, and was also the co-founder of the rhythm-heavy, jazz-influenced group Stimela.

Simon Holmes (March 28, 1963 – July 13, 2017)

The Australian jangle-pop guitarist was known for his work with The Hummingbirds and Her Name in Lights.

Fresh Kid Ice (May 29, 1964 – July 13, 2017)

Rapper Fresh Kid Ice (real name: Christopher Wong Won) was a founding member of 2 Live Crew that appeared on all of the group’s albums. His 2004 solo record Freaky Chinese featured Flo Rida before he was popular.

David Zablidowsky (died July 14, 2017)

Bassist Zablidowsky was previously in ZO2 and Trans-Siberian Orchestra and was touring with Adrenaline Mob at the time of his death.

Thor Lindsay (October 10, 1957 – July 16, 2017)

Lindsay was the co-founder of the legendary Portland record label Tim/Kerr, which issued albums by the Dandy Warhols, Everclear, The Wipers and Pere Ubu.

Peter Principle of Tuxedomoon (December 5, 1954 – July 17, 2017)

Principle (a.k.a. Peter Dachert) was the bassist and a songwriter in post-punk icons Tuxedomoon.

Chester Bennington (March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017)

As the vocalist in nu-metal/hip-hop/electro-rock band Linkin Park, Bennington provided angst-ridden, melodic vocals that served as a counterpart to Mike Shinoda’s rapping. For several years, the singer also fronted Stone Temple Pilots after the firing of former vocalist Scott Weiland.

Bobby Taylor (February 18, 1934 – July 22, 2017)

The leader of Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers — a band featuring a pre-fame Tommy Chong that had the hit “Does Your Mama Know About Me” — he also discovered the Jackson 5 after the young group opened for Taylor’s band.

Goldy McJohn of Steppenwolf (May 2, 1945 – August 1, 2017)

The original keyboardist for Steppenwolf gave the group its distinctive, psychedelic sound by playing a Hammond B3 organ.

Donovan McKitty (February 21, 1955 – August 1, 2017)

The Jamaica-born McKitty joined Steel Pulse on guitar in 2008. He also contributed to Robert Palmer’s albums Double Fun and Burning Spear’s Jah Is Real, and wrote the song “Johnny” on Sheena Easton’s You Could Have Been With Me.

Glen Campbell (April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017)

Country legend Glen Campbell was an influential guitarist and vocalist with a litany of hits, including “Gentle On My Mind,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Galveston.” He was also the host of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from 1969 to 1972, and received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the 1969 movie True Grit.

Matt Shoemaker (died August 12, 2017)

Seattle-based experimental musician and painter Shoemaker released an intriguing body of work that Jim Haynes of the Helen Scarsdale Agency label described to The Stranger as “some of the most singular, densely compacted, carefully arranged, and hauntingly beautiful transmissions we have not only published but also experienced.”

Janet Rains a.k.a. Jane Train (died August 23, 2017)

Adrenaline Mob tour manager Rains, who went by Jane Train, died of complications from a van crash that also took the life of the band’s bassist, David Zablidowsky. She was 48. Train was also in the band M80.

Melissa Bell (March 5, 1964 – August 28, 2017)

Bell was a vocalist with U.K. soul/R&B group Soul II Soul in the mid-’90s, and sang on the single “Wish.” She also performed with Liza Minnelli, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder, and is the mother of X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke.

Skip Prokop (December 13, 1943 – August 30, 2017)

Canadian rock and fusion drummer Prokop co-founded the orchestral rock band Lighthouse, worked with the Paupers and also drummed on the live album The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper.

Walter Becker of Steely Dan (February 20, 1950 – September 3, 2017)

Steely Dan’s Walter Becker died after a fast-moving bout of esophageal cancer. As the co-founder/co-conspirator of the jazz-rock-pop-soul group, the meticulous multi-instrumentalist helped shape rock ‘n’ roll in the ’70s (and beyond).

Earl “Wire”/”Wya” Lindo (January 7, 1953 – September 4, 2017)

Lindo is considered one of the most well-regarded keyboardists of all time. The Jamaica native was a member of Bob Marley and the Wailers and Taj Mahal’s band, and also collaborated with Burning Spear and the Wailers. As a solo artist, he also released the hits “No Soul Today” and “Who Done It.”

Rick Stevens of Tower of Power (February 23, 1940 – September 5, 2017)

Stevens was a former lead singer of horn-driven funk/R&B/soul act Tower of Power, and sang on the band’s 1972 album Bump City, which spawned the hit “You’re Still a Young Man.” After leaving the band, he spent 36 years in prison, in connection with a drug-related triple murder, but was paroled in 2012 and reunited briefly with the group in 2013.

Holger Czukay of Can (March 24, 1938 – September 5, 2017)

As the bassist of Krautrock legends Can, Czukay helped develop and refine the motorik rhythm that would come to define the genre. He also released a series of solo albums and collaborated with artists such as ms with Jah Wobble and David Sylvian.

Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry (April 5, 1967 – September 8, 2017)

Gentry was one-half of the duo Montgomery Gentry, which had numerous No. 1 country hits to their name and toured with (among others) Toby Keith, Keith Urban, and Kenny Chesney.

Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins (July 28, 1989 – September 12, 2017)

Zazu fronted the scrappy, garage-leaning alt-country act Those Darlins and was an accomplished visual artist. After being diagnosed with cervical cancer, she became an outspoken advocate for affordable health insurance and the importance of the ACA.

Josh Schwartz of Beachwood Sparks (1972 – September 12, 2017)

Schwartz recorded under the name Painted Hills and was also a member of Further and the early lineup of ’60s-pop throwbacks Beachwood Sparks. He also contributed to music released by Flight of the Conchords, Lou Barlow, and Tift Merritt.

Grant Hart (March 18, 1961 – September 13, 2017)

Minnesota native Grant Hart first rose to prominence as the drummer/vocalist/songwriter of ’80s post-punk icons Hüsker Dü, and wrote some of the band’s most indelible songs (“Green Eyes,” “Books About UFOs,” “Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill,” “Diane”). After the band dissolved, Hart formed the band Nova Mob and also launched a lengthy, varied solo career. His song “2541” was notably covered by Marshall Crenshaw.

Charles Bradley (November 5, 1948 – September 23, 2017)

Charles Bradley (a.k.a. “the Screaming Eagle of Soul”) once worked as a James Brown impersonator—but once he was discovered by Daptone Records, he forged a solo career under his own name. The magnetic performer released three well-regarded albums, most recently 2016’s Changes, that displayed his gravelly, soulful voice.

Tom Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017)

Quite simply, Tom Petty was one of the most beloved American musicians ever. His early band Mudcrutch morphed into Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, a band that spent the next forty years crafting a unique sound indebted to rock, folk, pop and country. Petty also had a successful solo career; wrote songs that became hits for Rosanne Cash and Stevie Nicks; and also produced artists such as the Byrds’ Chris Hillman and new band The Shelters.

Bunny Sigler (March 27, 1941 – October 6, 2017)

In addition to his career as a soul singer and performer, Sigler was a decorated songwriter and record producer who worked with Gamble and Huff and helped crystallize the influential “Philly Sound.” He worked with acts such as Patti LaBelle, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, The Roots, and Lou Rawls.

Grady Tate (January 14, 1932 – October 8, 2017)

A singer and drummer, Tate was the vocalist heard on many Schoolhouse Rock songs. He was also the drummer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; and was part of the band for Simon & Garfunkel’s legendary Concert in Central Park.

Iain Shedden (January 6, 1957 – October 16, 2017)

Australian drummer who performed on and off with punk band The Saints from the early ’80s on through 2017. Shedden was also a music journalist for The Australian.

Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip (February 6, 1964 – October 17, 2017)

Downie was a singer and songwriter who fronted the Tragically Hip, one of Canada’s biggest rock bands. His outspoken activism in support of Canada’s indigenous population also made him a beloved figure. After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, he and the Hip went on a well-received farewell tour of Canada; Downie also recorded and released several solo albums.

Daisy Berkowitz (April 28, 1968 – October 22, 2017)

A founding guitarist of Marilyn Manson, Berkowitz (real name: Scott Putesky) also played in the band Jack Off Jill and released solo music under the name Three Ton Gate.

Fats Domino (February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017)

Fats Domino was a rock ‘n’ roll legend. The pianist/songwriter/vocalist began his recording career around 1950, and released indelible songs such as “The Fat Man” (regarded as the first platinum rock ‘n’ roll song), “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill.”

Mike Hudson of the Pagans (February 2, 1956 – October 27, 2017)

Hudson was a founding member of the ’70s Cleveland punk band the Pagans. Later, he became a journalist: He founded and edited the Niagara Falls Reporter, and had work published in Rolling Stone and with the Associated Press.

Pentti “Whitey” Glan (July 8, 1946 – November 7, 2017)

The Finnish drummer worked with both Lou Reed and Alice Cooper in the 1970s, and later played with blues bands.

Paul Buckmaster (June 13, 1946 – November 7, 2017)

Buckmaster was a Grammy-winning composer, arranger and conductor who aided the gorgeous orchestral accents on work by Elton John (“Tiny Dancer”), Guns n’ Roses (multiple Chinese Democracy tunes), the Rolling Stones (“Moonlight Mile”), Heart (multiple songs on Beautiful Broken), Ben Folds (“Landed”), Taylor Swift (“Back to December”) and hundreds more artists.

Fred Cole of Dead Moon (August 28, 1948 – November 9, 2017)

Pacific Northwest punk rock anchor Fred Cole helmed a slew of bands—including Dead Moon, Pierced Arrows, The Rats, The Range Rats, King Bee and Western Front. His influence is immeasurable: As KEXP’s Dusty Henry put it, “For over five decades, Cole continued to find new ways to create and always pushed the limits of where punk music could go.”

Chuck Mosley (December 26, 1959 – November 10, 2017)

Mosley was the original vocalist for Faith No More, singing on the band’s first two albums (1985’s We Care A Lot and 1987’s Introduce Yourself) and one of its most well-known hits, “We Care a Lot.” For the last twenty years, he’s lived in Cleveland, Ohio, releasing solo work under his own name and also collaborating in the electro-rock band Primitive Race.

Chad Hanks of American Head Charge (died November 12, 2017)

Hanks, a founding member and bassist for the industrial-spiked nu-metal/hard rock act American Head Charge, died at the age of 48 after an illness.

Lil Peep (November 1, 1996 – November 15, 2017)

Emo rapper Lil Peep’s surging career was cut short after he died of a drug overdose before a show in Arizona. His music, which combined eclectic sonic inspirations and vulnerable lyrics, resonated widely with diverse audiences.

Michael “DikMik” Davies of Hawkwind (1943 – November 16, 2017)

Keyboardist DikMik (or DIk Mik) was in the original lineup of Hawkwind, and lent his inimitable synth stylings to the group between 1969 and 1973 (which meant his tenure in the band overlapped with that of Lemmy).

Malcolm Young of AC/DC (January 15, 1953 – November 18, 2017)

It’s hard to overstate rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young’s impact on rock ‘n’ roll. He and brother Angus founded AC/DC in 1973, and for decades, the hard rock group ran circles around other bands—both live and in the studio—thanks to their combustible, razor-sharp, bluesy metal.

Ben Riley (July 17, 1933 – November 18, 2017)

Jazz drummer Riley performed with a who’s-who of artists, including Thelonious Monk, Alice Coltrane, Stan Getz and Woody Herman. He was also once a member of the New York Jazz Quartet.

Warren “Pete” Moore (November 19, 1938 – November 19, 2017)

Soul singer-songwriter Moore co-wrote “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Love Machine,” and was also a noted producer who worked with the Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross & the Supremes. Moore is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Smokey Robinson’s band, the Miracles, for whom he arranged vocals.

David Cassidy (April 12, 1950 – November 21, 2017)

Actor and musician David Cassidy first rose to fame as a cast member on TV show The Partridge Family, which aided the popularity of his nascent solo career. After that series ended, Cassidy continued making music and acting—both on TV and in the theater—and toured regularly.

Wayne Cochran (May 10, 1939 – November 21, 2017)

Soul singer Cochran, who sported a distinctive pompadour hairstyle, notably wrote and performed the song “Last Kiss,” which was a No. 2 Billboard chart hit for Pearl Jam in 1999.

Jon Hendricks (September 16, 1921 – November 22, 2017)

Jazz vocalist and lyricist Hendricks—a member of the vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross and a musician dubbed the “Father of Vocalese”—was known as one of the greatest scat singers of all time. He contributed lyrics to the Manhattan Transfer’s album Vocalese, which won multiple Grammy Awards

Tommy Keene (June 30, 1958 – November 22, 2017)

Power-pop cult hero Tommy Keene carved out a dependable solo career with well-wrought, hooky songwriting that brimmed with meticulous wordplay. He was part of Bob Pollard’s touring band (and recorded with the latter under the name the Keene Brothers), contributed guitar to Goo Goo Dolls’ “Broadway,” and opened for Matthew Sweet frequently in recent years.

Mitch Margo (May 25, 1947 – November 24, 2017)

A talented artist and animator, Margo was also a songwriter and singer who was a member of the Tokens, whose best-known song is their 1961 No. 1 hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Johnny Hallyday (June 15, 1943 – December 6, 2017)

Hallyday—who is known as the “French Elvis”—was a rock ‘n’ roll legend in France who collaborated with some of music’s biggest names, including Jimmy Page, Peter Frampton, the Small Faces, and Foreigner’s Mick Jones. He remained wildly popular for much of his life: A 2009 Bastille Day concert drew more than 500,000 people.

Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens (October 12, 1955 – December 12, 2017)

Jersey-proud musician DiNizio fronted the Smithereens, a roaring rock ‘n’ roll quartet indebted to power pop and the British Invasion. The band first found fame in the ’80s with hits such as “Blood and Roses” and “Only a Memory,” but remained popular throughout the ’90s and beyond, and continued to be a ferocious live act until earlier this year.

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 15, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Rest in peace to all the musicians we lost in 2017. Tom Petty was one of my biggest influences in my music… when I heard the news, my heart broke. But now I realize their music lives on.

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