Several excellent musicians passed away in 2015, here we celebrate some of their lives and contributions to the world of music.
January 8, 2015: Andrae Edward Crouch
Andraé Edward Crouch (July 1, 1942 – January 8, 2015) was an American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor. He was referred to as “the father of modern gospel music” by contemporary Christian and gospel music professionals, and was known for his compositions “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”, “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)” and “Soon and Very Soon”.
He collaborated with artists, such as Stevie Wonder, El DeBarge, Philip Bailey, Chaka Khan, Sheila E. and vocal group Take 6, and many recording artists covered his material, including, Bob Dylan, Barbara Mandrell, Paul Simon, Elvis Presley and Little Richard.
In the 1980s and 1990s, he was known as the “go to” producer for superstars who sought a gospel choir sound in their recordings, and appeared on a number of recordings, including Michael Jackson’s “Man In the Mirror”, Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, and “The Power”, a duet between Elton John and Little Richard.
Crouch’s original music arrangements were heard in the films The Color Purple, for which he received an Oscar nomination, and Disney’s The Lion King. He received seven Grammy Awards, an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Andrae Edward Crouch died from a heart attack on January 8th, aged 72.
January 18, 2015: Dallas Taylor
Dallas Woodrow Taylor Jr. (April 7, 1948 – January 18, 2015) was an American drummer who played on several classic rock records of the 1960s and 1970s.
He was born in Denver but he grew up in San Antonio, Texas. He achieved some success first with 1960s band Clear Light, but is best known as the drummer on Crosby, Stills and Nash’s debut album, Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) and their follow-up with Neil Young, Déjà Vu (1970).
As well as appearing on Stephen Stills’s eponymous first solo album in 1970, and 1971 follow up Stephen Stills 2, Dallas Taylor was the drummer for Stills’s group Manassas in 1972 and 1973. He also appeared on Stills’s 1975 solo album Stills.
In 1970, Taylor sat in with The Doors accompanying John Densmore on drums. Jim Morrison acknowledges him on The Doors Live in New York album.
He also appeared on Graham Nash’s 1971 debut Songs For Beginners, and played percussion on the Byrds, 1973 reunion album Byrds.
In 1974 he played with Van Morrison at the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival in a quartet along with keyboardist Pete Wingfield and bassist Jerome Rimson, a performance issued on the 2006 DVD, Live at Montreux 1980/1974.
Taylor died on January 18, 2015, of complications from viral pneumonia and kidney disease, aged 66
January 31, 2015: Don Covay
Donald James Randolph (March 24, 1936 – January 31, 2015), better known by the stage name Don Covay, was an American R&B, rock and roll and soul singer and songwriter most active from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Don Covay’s songs were memorably covered by everyone from Aretha Franklin (“Chain of Fools”) to the Rolling Stones (“Mercy Mercy”).
He received a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994.
He died on January 31st, after decades of poor health following a stroke, aged 78.
February 7, 2015: Joe B Mauldin
Joseph Benson Mauldin, Jr. (July 8, 1940 – February 7, 2015) was an American bass player, songwriter, and engineer who was best known as the stand-up bass player for the early rock and roll group the Crickets, with Buddy Holly.
Joe B Mauldin was born in Lubbock, Texas. He was one of the founding members of the Crickets, with Buddy Holly, drummer Jerry Allison, and guitarist Niki Sullivan.
Mauldin initially played a double (standup) bass, then switched to a Fender Precision Bass guitar. After several years with the Crickets, he became a recording engineer at Gold Star Studios, the Los Angeles studio which became the “hit factory” for Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and many other major 1960s rock performers.
Joe B Mauldin was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, as an original Cricket. In 2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Crickets by a special committee which corrected the mistake of not including the Crickets with Buddy Holly when he was first inducted in 1986.
Joe B Mauldin died of cancer in Nashville, Tennessee on February 7, 2015, aged 74.
February 16, 2015: Lesley Gore
Lesley Gore, the singer of the Number One single “It’s My Party” and other Sixties hits was felled
Lesley Sue Goldstein (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015), known as Lesley Gore, was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16 (in 1963) she recorded the pop hit “It’s My Party” (a US number one), and followed it up with other hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry”, “She’s a Fool”, “You Don’t Own Me”, “Maybe I Know” and “California Nights”.
Gore also worked as an actress and composed songs with her brother, Michael Gore, for the 1980 film Fame, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.
Lesley Gore died from Lung cancer on February 16, aged 68.
February 23, 2015: Bobby Emmons
Bobby Gene Emmons (February 19, 1943 – February 23, 2015) was an American keyboard player and songwriter, born in Corinth, Mississippi.
He was an active session musician in Memphis, Tennessee, and was the keyboardist of The Memphis Boys, playing keyboards on tracks by Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and many others from the 1950s onward.
Bobby Emmons began playing keyboards in the house band at Hi Records around 1963, before moving to Chips Moman’s American Sound Studio as a session musician.
Among the many records on which he played keyboards in the 1960s and 1970s were Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto”, Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man”, and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”. He also played on many of Willie Nelson’s albums, toured internationally with The Highwaymen.
His compositions included “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)”, written with Chips Moman and recorded by Waylon Jennings; and “Love Me Like You Used To”, co-written with Paul Davis and recorded by both Johnny Cash and Tanya Tucker.
Bobby Emmons died on February 23, 2015 of an undisclosed illness, aged 72.
March 13, 2015: Daevid Allen
Christopher David Allen (January 13, 1938 – March 13, 2015), known as Daevid Allen, and sometimes credited as Divided Alien, was an Australian poet, guitarist, singer, composer and performance artist. He was co-founder of the psychedelic rock groups Soft Machine (in the UK, 1966) and Gong (in France, 1967).
Daevid Allen died in Australia on March 13, 2015 after a long battle with cancer, aged 77.
March 16, 2015: Andy Fraser
Andrew McLan Fraser (July 3, 1952 – March 16, 2015) was an English songwriter and bass guitarist whose career lasted over forty years, and included two spells as a member of the rock band Free, which he helped found in 1968, aged 15.
Andy Fraser co-wrote their hit “All Right Now” with singer Paul Rodgers when he was just 15. He also co-wrote two other hit singles for Free, “My Brother Jake” and “The Stealer”
After leaving Free, Andy Fraser formed Sharks, but despite being well received by the critics, Fraser left after their debut album, First Water (1973). He then formed the Andy Fraser Band, a trio which released two albums, Andy Fraser Band and In Your Eyes, both in 1975, before that also folded.
Andy Fraser moved to California to concentrate on song writing, and wrote hits for Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Rod Stewart and Paul Young.
His most famous songs were “All Right Now” and “Every Kinda People”, which Robert Palmer recorded in 1978 for his Double Fun album.
Andy Fraser died on March 16, 2015 at his home in California of a heart attack, caused by atherosclerosis, aged 62.
March 20, 2015: A J Pero
Anthony Jude “A.J.” Pero (October 14, 1959 – March 20, 2015) was an American drummer, in American heavy metal bands Twisted Sister and Adrenaline Mob.
He was initially a jazz drummer, later moving to heavier music like Rush and Led Zeppelin. He joined Twisted Sister in April 1982, after seeing them play at a club and being told they were in need of a drummer. Upon his departure from Twisted Sister in July 1986, he re-joined his old band Cities. He participated in Twisted Sister’s 1997 reunion and continued to perform with until his death.
On December 3, 2013, Pero was announced as the new drummer of the band Adrenaline Mob.
On March 20, 2015, Adrenaline Mob’s band members tried but failed to wake Pero on their tour bus. A J Pero was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead from an apparent heart attack, aged 55.
April 3, 2015: Bob Burns Jr.
Robert “Bob” Lewis Burns Jr. (November 24, 1950 – April 3, 2015) was an American drummer who was in the original line-up of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Bob Burns Jr. helped to form Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1964 with Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins and Larry Junstrom. During a brief period in the early 1970s, Rickey Medlocke occasionally played alongside Burns on drums for live shows, a two-drummer line-up similar to The Allman Brothers Band.
Bob Burns Jr. played on the band’s first two official albums: (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) and Second Helping. He suffered a mental breakdown while on a particularly difficult tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and left the band in 1974, and so was not involved in the plane crash that killed three band members in 1977.
In 1996, he took part in a performance to promote Freebird: The Movie, and on March 13, 2006, he re-joined Lynyrd Skynyrd for one performance and played alongside Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Ed King, Artimus Pyle and the Honkettes at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
Bob Burns Jr. died in a single car crash after hitting a mailbox and tree on a sharp curve in Cartersville, Georgia, on April 3, 2015, aged 64.
April 14, 2015: Percy Sledge
Percy Tyrone Sledge (November 25, 1941 – April 14, 2015) was born in Leighton, Alabama and was an American R&B, soul and gospel singer. He is best known for the song “When a Man Loves a Woman”, a No. 1 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts in 1966.
Percy Sledge achieved his strongest success in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a series of emotional soul songs. In later years, he received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Career Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Percy Sledge died of liver cancer at his home in Baton Rouge on April 14, 2015, aged 73.
April 16, 2015: Johnny Kemp
Johnny Kemp (August 2, 1959 – April 16, 2015) was a Bahamian singer, songwriter, and record producer. He began his career as a songwriter in late 1979 and is best known for his solo work, including his single “Just Got Paid” (1988), which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1989.
Johnny Kemp was found dead on April 16, 2015 off the coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, aged 55. Police believe he was walking on some rocks, lost his balance, fell, hit his head, and drowned.
April 30, 2015: Ben E King
Benjamin Earl King (born Benjamin Earl Nelson, September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015) was born in Henderson, North Carolina, and moved to Harlem, New York, at the age of nine.
He was an American soul and R&B singer and record producer, best known as the singer and co-composer of “Stand by Me”, which was a U.S. Top 10 hit, both in 1961 and later in 1986 (when it was used as the theme to the film of the same name), a number one hit in the United Kingdom in 1987, and no. 25 on the Recording Industry Association of America’s list of Songs of the Century.
He was also as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group The Drifters, and had a string of R&B hits with the group on Atlantic Records. He co-wrote and sang lead on “There Goes My Baby” (1959), and sang lead on a succession of hits including “Save the Last Dance for Me”, “This Magic Moment”, and “I Count the Tears”
In May 1960, King left the Drifters, and took on the stage name Ben E. King in preparation for a solo career and scored his first solo hit with the ballad “Spanish Harlem” in 1961.
His next single was “Stand by Me” and his records continued to place well on the Billboard Hot 100 chart until 1965, and after that he continued to make R&B hits, including “What is Soul?” (1966), “Tears, Tears, Tears” (1967), and the Top 5 Pop smash (#1 R&B) “Supernatural Thing” (1975).
Ben E King returned to the Drifters in late 1982 in England, and sang with them until the group’s break-up and reorganization in 1986.
He had 12 Top 10 hits and 26 Top 40 hits from 1959 to 1986. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Drifter and was also nominated as a solo artist.
Ben E King died at the Hackensack University Medical Center on April 30, 2015, aged 76.
May 6, 2015: Errol Brown
Errol Brown, frontman for Hot Chocolate and singer of hits such as “You Sexy Thing” and “Brother Louie,” died from liver cancer on May 6th. He was 71.
Errol Brown MBE (November 12, 1943 – May 6, 2015) was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved to the UK when he was twelve years old, and was best known as the frontman of the soul and funk band Hot Chocolate.
His break in music came in 1969 when he recorded a version of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” with a band called “Hot Chocolate Band”. Unable to change the lyrics without Lennon’s permission, he sent a copy to his record label, Apple, and the song was released with Lennon’s approval.
The Hot Chocolate albums were produced by Mickie Most and recorded at the Rak Records studio. Hot Chocolate had at least one hit every year from 1970 to 1984, and their 1975 song “You Sexy Thing” made the Top 10 in three different decades.
In 1981, Errol Brown performed at the wedding reception following the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, at Buckingham Palace.
Errol Brown left the group in 1985 and soon went on to have a solo career, achieving success in the clubs with the 1987 single “Body Rocking”.
In 2004, Brown received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.
Errol Brown died from liver cancer at his home in the Bahamas on May 6, 2015, aged 71.
May 14, 2015: B B King
Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known professionally as B.B. King, was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer.
Riley B King was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and later worked at a cotton gin in Indianola, Mississippi. He was attracted to music and the guitar in church, and began his career in juke joints and local radio. He later lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, and as his fame grew, toured the world extensively.
BB King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later blues electric guitar players.
BB King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and is one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and is considered one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King).
BB King performed tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing on average at more than 200 concerts per year into his 70s. In 1956, he appeared at an amazing 342 shows.
BB King died in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 14, 2015, aged 89.
May 21, 2015: Louis Johnson
Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson, bassist in successful the Brothers Johnson, made his greatest impact as a session player: He
Louis Johnson (April 13, 1955 – May 21, 2015) was an American bass guitarist. He was best known for his R&B group The Brothers Johnson and his session playing on several hit albums of the 1970s and 1980s, including Michael Jackson’s albums Off the Wall, Dangerous and the bestselling album of all time, Thriller, on which he played the immortal bass line on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” He also played on “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” as well as George Benson’s “Give Me the Night”.
His signature sound came from the Music Man StingRay bass guitar, which Leo Fender himself made for him, and from his slapping technique. Bass Player magazine’s list of “The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time” ranked him at number 38.
Louis Johnson died from gastrointestinal bleeding of the oesophagus on May 21, 2015, aged 60.
June 11, 2015: Ornette Coleman
Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9 or 19, 1930 – June 11, 2015) was an American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer. He was born in Fort Worth, Texas and later moved to New Orleans and then to Los Angeles to follow his musical career.
In the 1960s, Ornette Coleman was one of the founders of free jazz, a term he invented for his album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. His “Broadway Blues” and “Lonely Woman” have become standards and are cited as important early works in free jazz. His album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Trailblazing saxophonist Ornette Coleman died of a cardiac arrest in New York City on June 11, 2015, aged 85.
June 27, 2015: Chris Squire
Christopher Russell Edward Squire (March 4, 1948 – June 27, 2015) was an English musician, singer and songwriter best known as the bassist and a founding member of the band Yes. He was the longest-serving original member, having remained in the band until his death and appearing on every studio album released from 1969 to 2014.
Chris Squire was born in Kingsbury, London, and took up the bass guitar at age 16. In 1968, Squire formed Yes with singer Jon Anderson and remained the band’s sole bassist for the next 47 years. Squire was widely regarded as the dominant bassist among the English progressive rock bands, influencing peers and later generations of bassists with his incisive sound and elaborately contoured, melodic bass lines.
From 1991 to 2000, Rickenbacker produced a limited edition signature model bass in his name, the 4001CS. Chris Squire also released two solo albums, Fish Out of Water (1975) and Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir (2007), a Christmas album.
In May 2015, Squire announced a hiatus from Yes after he was diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia, and died on June 27, 2015 at his home in Phoenix, Arizona.
He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes in 2017.
July 30, 2015: Lynn Anderson
Lynn Rene Anderson (September 26, 1947 – July 30, 2015) was an American country music singer known for a string of hits from the late 1960s to the 1980s, most notably her worldwide mega-hit “Rose Garden” in 1970.
Lynn Anderson was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and raised in Fair Oaks, California.
Anderson’s crossover appeal and regular exposure on national television helped her become country music’s first mainstream female superstar in the early 1970s. In 1970, she became the first female country star to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and, in 1974, the first to headline and sellout Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Lynn Anderson was among the most highly awarded female country recording artists of her era, and her version of “Rose Garden” stands as one of the most successful crossover recordings of all-time.
She continued to record and regularly headlined major casino showrooms, performing arts centers, and theaters until her death.
Lynn Anderson died on July 30, 2015, at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, from a heart attack aged 67.
August 1, 2015: Cilla Black
Priscilla Maria Veronica White OBE (May 27, 1943 – August 1, 2015), known as Cilla Black, was an English singer, television presenter, actress, and author, born in Liverpool, UK.
She was supported by her friends, the Beatles, and began her career as a singer in 1963 after she was introduced to Brian Epstein by John Lennon, who persuaded him to audition her.
Her singles “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “You’re My World” both reached number one in the UK in 1964, and she had 11 top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart between then and 1971, and an additional eight hits that made the top 40. “You’re My World” was also a modest hit in the U.S., peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Cilla Black hosted her own BBC TV variety show, Cilla (1968–1976), and after a brief time as a comedy actress in 1975, with the self-titled Cilla’s Comedy Six, she became a prominent UK television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date (1985–2003), The Moment of Truth (1998–2001), and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001).
Cilla Black died on August 1, 2015, after having a stroke following a fall in her villa in Estepona, Spain, aged 72.
September 13, 2015: Gary Richrath
Gary Dean Richrath (October 18, 1949 – September 13, 2015) was an American guitarist, best known as the lead guitarist and a songwriter for the band REO Speedwagon.
Gary Richrath was born in Peoria, Illinois on October 18, 1949 and grew up in East Peoria, Illinois. He originally played saxophone in the school band, and took up guitar as a teenager.
He played with REO Speedwagon from 1970 and was also co-writer of their hit “Take It on the Run”
He left in 1989, and with his new band named Richrath, released the album Only the Strong Survive featuring Michael Jahnz on vocals released in 1992.
Gary Richrath died on September 13, 2015, aged 65.
November 10, 2015: Allen Toussaint
Allen Toussaint (January 14, 1938 – November 10, 2015) was an American pianist, songwriter, arranger and record producer, who was an influential figure in New Orleans rhythm and blues from the 1950s and described as “one of popular music’s great backroom figures”.
Allen Toussaint was born in New Orleans and grew up in a shotgun house in the Gert Town neighbourhood. He learned piano as a child and took informal music lessons from an elderly neighbor, Ernest Pinn. A significant early influence on Toussaint was the syncopated “second-line” piano style of Professor Longhair.
After a lucky break at age 17, in which he stood in for Huey “Piano” Smith at a performance with Earl King’s band in Prichard, Alabama, Allen Toussaint was introduced to a group of local musicians led by Dave Bartholomew, who performed regularly at the Dew Drop Inn, a nightclub on Lasalle Street in Uptown New Orleans.
His first recording was as a stand-in for Fats Domino on Domino’s record “I Want You to Know”, in 1957, on which Toussaint played piano and Domino overdubbed his vocals. His first success as a producer also came in 1957 with Lee Allen’s “Walking with Mr. Lee”.
He began performing regularly in Dave Bartholomew’s band, and recorded with Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Lee Allen and many other leading New Orleans performers
Over the years many musicians recorded Toussaint’s compositions, including “Whipped Cream”, “Java”, “Mother-in-Law”, “I Like It Like That”, “Fortune Teller”, “Ride Your Pony”, “Get Out of My Life, Woman”, “Working in the Coal Mine”, “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky”, “Freedom For the Stallion”, “Here Come the Girls”, “Yes We Can Can”, “Play Something Sweet”, and “Southern Nights”.
He was also a producer for hundreds of recordings, including “Right Place, Wrong Time”, by his longtime friend Dr. John, and “Lady Marmalade”, by Labelle.
Most of Toussaint’s possessions, including his home and recording studio, Sea-Saint Studios, were lost during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Allen Toussaint died on November 10, 2015, aged 77, after suffering two heart attacks while on tour in Spain.
November 11, 2015: Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor
Philip John Taylor (September 21, 1954 – November 11, 2015), better known as Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, was an English drummer for the rock band Motörhead from 1975–1984 and 1987–1992, recording eleven studio albums and four live albums.
Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor was born in Hasland, Chesterfield, and grew up in Leeds, UK. He took drum lessons at Leeds College of Music on advice from his father.
After meeting Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, who was a fellow speed user, he joined Motörhead and replaced Lucas Fox during the recording of the band’s first album On Parole in 1975. Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor then introduced Lemmy to guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, having worked with him while painting a houseboat.
The Motörhead line-up of Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, Lemmy, and “Fast” Eddie Clarke is generally regarded as the ‘classic’ line-up of the band.
Shortly after recording the classic Ace of Spades album in 1980, Taylor broke his neck after being lifted above the head of a friend in a test of strength, only to be dropped on his head. Taylor continued to play in Motörhead with the aid of a neck brace, as is visible in the music video for “Ace of Spades”.
Taylor left Motörhead in 1984 and returned in 1987. He said “I always regretted leaving. Let’s just say I took a three-year holiday.” He continued playing in the group until 1992. After having been warned three times in the previous two years “to get his act together”, he was fired after recording “I Ain’t No Nice Guy”, because of his poor performance.
Phil Taylor died of Liver failure in London on 11 November 2015, aged 61.
November 23, 2015: Cynthia Robinson
Cynthia Robinson (January 12, 1944 – November 23, 2015) was an American musician, best known for being the trumpeter, vocalist and founding member of Sly and the Family Stone.
Cynthia Robinson grew up in Sacramento, California, and attended Sacramento High School where she played trumpet in the school band and was taunted by the boys in her band class for being a black girl playing a “white boy’s instrument”. Robinson said even the teachers suggested she take up a different activity and save the trumpet for the boys, but Robinson loved the trumpet.
Sly and the Family Stone formed in San Francisco and was active from 1966 to 1983, it was pivotal in the development of funk, soul, rock, and psychedelic music. Its core line-up was led by singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, and included Stone’s brother and singer/guitarist Freddie Stone, sister and singer/keyboardist Rose Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, drummer Greg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and bassist Larry Graham. It was the first major American rock group to have a racially integrated, male and female lineup.
Cynthia Robinson’s voice and presence were featured in the amazing hit “Dance to the Music”.
Robinson was among the first female trumpeters in a major American band, and the first such player in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also played in the funk band Graham Central Station with Family Stone bassist Larry Graham, starting in 1974.
Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Sly and the Family Stone in 1993.
Cynthia Robinson died of cancer in Carmichael, California, on November 23, 2015, aged 71.
December 3, 2015: Scott Weiland
Scott Weiland, the rock singer most famous for fronting Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, died in his sleep on December 3rd of an accidental overdose. He was 48.
Scott Richard Weiland October 27, 1967 – December 3, 2015) was an American musician, singer and songwriter, born at Kaiser Hospital in San Jose, California.
During a career spanning three decades, Scott Weiland was best known as the lead singer of the band Stone Temple Pilots from 1989 to 2002 and 2008 to 2013, making six records with them. He was also lead vocalist of supergroup Velvet Revolver, with Slash and Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses, from 2003 to 2008, recording two albums, and also recorded an album with, Art of Anarchy. He also released three studio albums and two cover albums as a solo artis, and collaborations with several other musicians throughout his career.
Derided by critics early in his career, Scott Weiland is now widely viewed as a talented and versatile vocalist, and was ranked number 57 in the Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists by Hit Parader.
In 2012, Weiland formed the backing band The Wildabouts. The band received mixed reviews, and some critics and fans noted Weiland’s failing health.
Scott Weiland died of an accidental drug overdose on his tour bus in Minnesota on December 3, 2015, aged 48.
December 24, 2015: William Guest
William Franklin Guest (July 2, 1941 – December 24, 2015) was an American R&B and soul singer best known as a founding member of Gladys Knight & the Pips and provided background vocals to all of the group’s hits.
William Guest was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was a cousin of Gladys Knight. Following his time with The Pips, he and fellow Pip Edward Patten formed Patten and Guest Productions, and following Patten’s death in 2005, he continued to manage artists through the Crew Entertainment Company he formed with members of Patten’s family.
William Guest was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1996
William Guest died, of congestive heart failure in Detroit, Michigan, his home for fifty years, on December 24, 2015, aged 74.
December 28, 2015: Lemmy
Lemmy (Ian Fraser Kilmister) (24 December 24, 1945 – December 28, 2015) was an English musician, singer, and songwriter who founded and fronted the hard-rock institution Motörhead. He was Rock n Roll and a true icon of heavy metal!
Lemmy was born in Stoke, UK, and grew up in North Wales where he played in several rock bands in the 1960s, including The Rocking Vickers. He worked as a roadie for legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix, and others, before joining Hawkwind and singing lead vocals on their biggest hit “Silver Machine”, which reached No. 3 in the UK in 1972. After being fired from Hawkwind, for being too Rock n Roll, he founded Motörhead as frontman, lead singer, bassist and songwriter.
Motörhead’s success peaked in the early 1980’s and included the singles “Ace of Spades” and “Killed by Death”, as well as the amazing live album “No Sleep ’til Hammersmith”.
Lemmy continued to record and tour regularly with Motörhead until his death in LA, from prostate cancer, heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia, on December 28, 2015, aged 70.
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