Several excellent musicians passed away in 2018, here we celebrate some of their lives and contributions to the world of music
January 11, 2018: Fast Eddie Clarke
Edward Allan Clarke (known as Fast Eddie) (October 5, 1950 – January 10, 2018), the last remaining member of the classic Motörhead line-up, died aged 67.
He began playing the guitar at an early age and by 15 had already played in several local bands. In 1973 he turned professional, joining blues prog rock band, Zeus, as lead guitarist. In 1974, Zeus and Fast Eddie recorded an album called The Second Coming.
After leaving Zeus, Fast Eddie played in a couple of other bands but was unsuccessful at getting another record deal and so, in 1975, he temporarily gave up on the music industry.
He was working on re-fitting a houseboat, when he met drummer Phil Taylor who had recently joined Motörhead and introduced Clarke to Lemmy. Fast Eddie played with Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in the ultimate Rock N Roll band, Motörhead, between 1976 and 1982, playing guitar on the first six Motörhead albums.
He passed away peacefully in hospital after battling pneumonia.
January 15, 2018: Dolores O’Riordan
Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan (September 6, 1971 – January 15, 2018) was an Irish singer, songwriter, musician and lead singer with The Cranberries, died suddenly at the age of 46.
In 1990 O’Riordan auditioned for a band called the Cranberry Saw Us and got the job of lead singer. The band later changed its name to the Cranberries and went on to release five albums: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993), No Need to Argue (1994), To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999), and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001), and a greatest-hits album called Stars: The Best of 1992-2002. The Cranberries then broke up in 2003.
Her first solo album, “Are You Listening?”, was released in May 2007 with the first single from it, “Ordinary Day”, having been released in earlier in late April. Her second solo album, “No Baggage”, which featured 11 tracks, was then released in August 2009.
In May 2017, Dolores O’Riordan publicly discussed her bipolar disorder, which she said had been diagnosed with two years earlier.
On January 15, 2018, while in London for a recording session, Dolores O’Riordan died unexpectedly at the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel in Mayfair. She was only 46 years old.
The cause of death was not immediately made public, but on September 6, 2019 the Coroner’s Court ruled that she died as a result of accidental drowning in a bathtub, following sedation by alcohol intoxication.
January 24, 2018: Mark E Smith
Mark Edward Smith (5 March 1957 – 24 January 2018) was an English singer and songwriter, and died aged 60.
He was the lead singer, lyricist and only constant member of the post-punk band the Fall. Smith led the band from 1976 until his death, having formed it after attending the June 1976 Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. During their 42-year existence, the Fall’s line-up included some 60 musicians with whom Smith released 32 studio albums and numerous singles and EPs.
Mark E Smith died on 24 January 2018 after a long illness with lung and kidney cancer, aged 60 years
February 5, 2018: Dennis Edwards
Dennis Edwards Jr. (February 3, 1943 – February 1, 2018) who was an American soul and R&B singer, and the most famously a lead singer of The Temptations, died in Chicago.
Edwards was born in Fairfield, Alabama, which is about eight miles from Birmingham
In 1966, following time served in the US military, Edwards auditioned for Detroit’s Motown Records, who signed him up but placed on retainer. Later that year, he was assigned to join The Contours after their lead singer, Billy Gordon, fell ill. In 1967, the Contours were the opening act for many Temptations concerts, and Temptations members Eddie Kendricks and Otis Williams, noticed Dennis Edwards.
In late June 1968 he was drafted to join the Temptations, who had just fired David Ruffin from the act.
Edwards was the first singer to join the Temptations after their so called “Classic 5” period. With his rougher gospel style vocals, he led them through their psychedelic, funk, and disco periods, singing on hits such as “Cloud Nine” (1968), “I Can’t Get Next to You” (1969), “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” (1970), “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (1972), and “Shakey Ground” (1975), among many others. Two of these songs, “Cloud Nine” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, also won Grammy Awards.
In 1989, Edwards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Temptations and also inducted into Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame with The Temptations in 2013.
Dennis Edwards died in a Chicago hospital on February 1, 2018, two days before his 75th birthday. Although his family did not say how he died, he had been battling with meningitis before his death.
June 18, 2018: XXXTentacion
Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy (January 23, 1998 – June 18, 2018), known by his stage name XXXTentacion, was shot and killed in Miami, Florida.
XXXTentacion was an American rapper, singer and songwriter, born on January 23, 1998, in Plantation, Florida, to Jamaican parents.
When he was six years old, he tried to stab a man who was attacking his mother and was eventually put into a youth program.
Later while in a juvenile detention center for gun possession charges, XXXTentacion met Stokeley Clevon Goulbourne, also known as Ski Mask the Slump God, and they began freestyling. After being released, Onfroy and Goulbourne met up again intending to carry out home invasions, but eventually XXXTentacion began recording music, which convinced Stokeley to do the same.
XXXTentacion released his first official EP, The Fall, on November 21, 2014.
In 2017, XXXTentacion re-released his song “Look at Me” which reached number 34 on US Billboard Hot 100 and was also in the top 40 of the Canadian Hot 100. Accusations that rapper Drake used a similar rap flow in his then-unreleased song “KMT”, helped him gain even more popularity.
He then released his first major-label album, 17, on August 25, 2017. It debuted at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200, selling 86,000 units in the first week. 17 received a very positive response from critics, some of which praised it for its personal narratives and diverse musical style.
XXXTentacion’s second studio album, “?”, was released on March 16, 2018 and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, becoming his first number one in the US.
On June 18, 2018, XXXTentacion was leaving the Riva Motorsports motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach, Florida, when two armed men approached him and after a struggle shot XXXTentacion several times.
June 22, 2018: Vinnie Paul
Vinnie Paul (March 11, 1964 – June 22, 2018) was an American musician, songwriter and producer, who died June 22, 2018, aged 54.
Vincent Paul Abbott was born in Abilene, Texas, on March 11, 1964. He originally played the tuba but was directed towards the drums by his father, who said there were no career prospects for a tuba player.
He was best known for being the drummer and co-founder of the heavy metal band Pantera. He was a member of Hellyeah for 12 years from 2006 until his death in 2018. He also co-founded the heavy metal band Damageplan in 2003 with his younger brother, Dimebag Darrell.
Vinnie Paul died at his Las Vegas, Nevada home on June 22, 2018, at the age of 54, from a “dilated cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease.”
August 16, 2018: Aretha Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018), an American singer, songwriter, and pianist, died at her home aged 76.
Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and began singing gospel as a child at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father was minister. She eventually embarked on recording career in 1960, at the age of 18, recording for Columbia Records, achieving modest success. She only achieved commercial success and acclaim after signing to Atlantic Records in 1966, when she recorded classic songs including “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, and “I Say a Little Prayer”.
By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin was being called “The Queen of Soul“.
During her career, Aretha Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 17 top-ten pop singles and 20 number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in history. She also won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, yes that’s right the first eight, from 1968 to 1975.
Aretha Franklin received many honors throughout her career, including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987, as the first female performer to be inducted, the National Medal of Arts awarded by President Bill Clinton, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George W Bush.
On August 13, 2018, Aretha Franklin was reported to be gravely ill, under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family at her home in Detroit. Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson and even her ex-husband Glynn Turman visited her on her deathbed. Sadly, Aretha died at her home on August 16, 2018, aged 76, with the cause reported as a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor.
August 22, 2018: Ed King
Edward Calhoun King (September 14, 1949 – August 22, 2018) was an American musician and he died in his Nashville, aged 68.
He was a guitarist for the psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock and guitarist and bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1972 to 1975 and again from 1987 to 1996.
He originally joined as bassist but switched to lead guitar, creating the triple-guitar attack that became the band’s signature sound, with Allen Collins and Gary Rossington. The band referred to this unique new setup with King as the “Three Guitar Army”.
Ed King’s guitar playing and songwriting skills were an essential element of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first three albums, and he co-wrote Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.
He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame alongside the surviving members of the band in 2006. His guitar playing influenced many subsequent musicians, including Metallica bassist Cliff Burton.
According to Nashville news station WTVF, King had been battling cancer in the months prior to his death, and he died in his Nashville, Tennessee, home on August 22, 2018 at 68 years of age.
September 7, 2018: Mac Miller
Malcolm James McCormick (January 19, 1992 – September 7, 2018), known professionally as Mac Miller, died aged 26.
He was an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Miller began his career in the city’s hip hop scene in 2007, at the age of fifteen. In 2010, he signed a record deal with Pittsburgh-based independent label Rostrum Records, with whom he had his breakthrough with the mixtapes K.I.D.S. (2010) and Best Day Ever (2011).
Mac Miller’s debut studio album, Blue Slide Park (2011), became the first independently distributed album to top the US Billboard 200 since 1995. In 2013, he founded the record label imprint REMember Music. After his second studio album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off (2013), he left Rostrum and signed with the major label Warner Bros. Records in 2014. With them, he released three studio albums: GO:OD AM (2015), The Divine Feminine (2016), and Swimming (2018). For Swimming, he was posthumously nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. He also served as a record producer for various artists, including himself, under the pseudonym Larry Fisherman.
Miller struggled with substance abuse, which was often referenced in his lyrics.
On September 7, 2018, Mac Miller was found unresponsive in his Studio City home by his personal assistant, and was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:51 a.m. (PDT) by Paramedics who attended. He was buried at Homewood Cemetery in his hometown of Pittsburgh, in a Jewish funeral. On November 5, 2018, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office determined that Miller died from an accidental drug overdose due to a “mixed drug toxicity” of fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol.
September 27, 2018: Marty Balin
Martyn Jerel Buchwald, (January 30, 1942 – September 27, 2018), known as Marty Balin, was an American singer, songwriter, and musician, and died aged 76.
He was best known as the founder and one of the lead singers and songwriters of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, and played with Jefferson Airplane at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Along with the other members of the 1966-1970 line-up of Jefferson Airplane, Marty Balin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996., and as a member of Jefferson Airplane, he was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016
Marty Balin died on September 27, 2018, at the age of 76. “Marty always reached for the stars and took us along with him,” Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen said in tribute after his death.
September 29, 2018: Otis Rush Jr
Otis Rush Jr. (April 29, 1935 – September 29, 2018), American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, died aged 74.
His distinctive guitar style featured a slow-burning sound and long bent notes. With qualities similar to the styles of other 1950s artists Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and was an influence on many musicians, including Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green and Eric Clapton.
Otis Rush was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984.
In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked Otis Rush at number 53 on its 100 Greatest Guitarists list.
On April 20, 2018, The Jazz Foundation of America honored Rush with a Lifetime Achievement Award “for a lifetime of genius and leaving an indelible mark in the world of blues and the universal language of music.”
Otis Rush died on September 29, 2018, from complications related to a stroke he had in 2003.
December 6, 2018: Pete Shelley
Pete Shelley (April 17, 1955 – December 6, 2018) was born Peter Campbell McNeish, and was an English singer, songwriter and guitarist, died aged 63.
Pete formed the Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto (born Howard Trafford) in 1976, and was the lead singer and guitarist from 1977 when Devoto left. The Buzzcocks released the classic “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” in 1978. They broke up in 1981, and reformed in 1989.
Pete Shelley died in Estonia of a suspected heart attack on the morning of December 6, 2018, aged 63
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