Living On In Our Hearts 2016

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Submitted by Don Graham

If anyone had told us at beginning of 2016 how many musical icons we would lose in the course of the year we’d be hard pressed to believe it. But it was a year like none I can remember for deaths in the musical community. By April it appeared to me that surely we couldn’t lose anymore. But the grim reaper kept coming. Some say it’s the age, that so many of the artists we grew up with were aging out, but that theory doesn’t hold water in all cases, there were some that were just too young to go.

The year started off in January with two giants of the industry passing within days of each other. The passing of mega star David Bowie was a shock and while we still reeling from that an even bigger shock hit us when Eagles co-founder and superstar Glenn Frey exited suddenly. Also in January rock pioneer with The Jefferson Airplane, Paul Katner left us. February started off on first of the month by claiming country crooner Jim Reeves and followed by taking country and early rock ‘n’ roll singer (Young Love) Sonny James. The month also took Lennie Baker, saxophonist for Sha Na Na. March saw country singer Joey Feek  succumb to her long public battle with cancer and Canadian legend Ray Griff who built a career for himself in Nashville passed away back in Canada. Frank Sinatra Junior joined his dad in the heavenly orchestra and one third of Emerson Lake and Palmer, Keith Emerson checked out. And the man responsible for the Beatles sound, Sir George Martin, left us.

April was a cruel month taking country legend Merle Haggard, on his birthday April 6th, just as  he predicted. Former Flying Burrito Brother and Swampwater member, fiddler Gib Guilbeau was gone. Singer Billy Paul, the great Lonnie Mack  and Harrison Calloway of the Muscle Shoals Horns all passed on. And April also took the iconic and multi talented  Prince suddenly. May saw us lose the amazing Guy Clark and a crooner from my parents’ day and Ed Sullivan favourite Julius Larosa. Also John Berry of the Beastie Boys and American Idol’s 36 year old Rickey Smith.

June was an especially hard month for us at Cashbox as we lost our dear friend and stalwart supporter of the magazine Canadian icon and teen idol Bobby Curtola. Sudden and sad.

Freddy Powers long time Merle Haggard guitarist and collaborator left the planet. June also took Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore and country legend Jim Ed Brown.

July saw us lose another great,  Montreal pioneer folksinger Penny Lang and Blue Oyster Cult’s Sandy Pearlman also passed on. August took the gifted  Glen Yarborough of the Limeliters and Baby The Rain Must Fall fame.

The legion of doom continued in September taking Jerry Corbetta of Sugarloaf, and October claimed Bobby Vee and songwriting legend Curly Putnam.

November was also a very hard month as we lost Al Caiola, Milt Okun, Dap-Kings lead singer Sharon Jones,   the legendaey Kay Starr, country singer Holly Dunn, Drift Away writer and brother to Paul Williams, Mentor Williams.  And two more larger than life figures.Leon Russell and Leonard Cohen.

As I write this, the month of December is only half over but has already claimed another third of Emerson Lake and Palmer, Gregg Lake, country singer Mark Gray, rapper Big Skye, Alan Thicke, singer/songwriter Jim Lowe and Toronto guitarist Brian Cober. Gordie Tapp of Country Hoedown and Hee Haw fame is the latest at this date.

I’m sure I’m missing some and for that I apologize. I guess all we can hope for is that the ones we have lost are now in a better place and all we can do is thank them all for their music, their craft and their dedication.

With love to all of us who are still here and the hope for many more bright and happy musical days ahead.

Peace to all.