Rock & Roll Heaven

Sonny Geraci, lead singer of legendary Cleveland rock group The Outsiders, dead at 69

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Story Credit: By Michael Norman (cleveland.com)

Sonny Geraci, the Cleveland-born pop singer who scored national hits as lead singer of The Outsiders in the 1960s and Climax in the 1970s passed away on  February 5, 2017. He was 69, and had been in ill health since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2012.

Geraci, a graduate of John Adams High School, became lead singer of The Starfires in 1964. The band, founded by guitarist and songwriter Tom King soon changed its name to The Outsiders and put four singles on the U.S. pop charts during the late 1960s, including "Time Won't Let Me," "Girl in Love," "Help Me Girl" and "Respectable (What Kind of Girl Is This)," a remake of the Isley Brothers tune.

Geraci left the band in 1970, striking out on his own and eventually forming the band Climax with Walter Nims, who had been a member of both the Starfires and The Outsiders. That group later scored a Top 3 single with "Precious and Few," written by Nims. Climax disbanded in 1975.

Geraci left the music business in the early 1980s, but tried a comeback, under the pseudonym Peter Emmett, in 1983, releasing an unsuccessful album on MCA.

Later, he played the oldies circuit, performed for a time with the Grass Roots and toured from 2007-2012 as Sonny Geraci and the Outsiders.

The Outsiders - Time Won´t Let Me (1966)

Rest in Peace Steve Lang April Wine

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Submitted by Don Graham

Steve Lang bassist for Canada’s April Wine passed away June 4, 2017 at the age of 67.

Lang joined AW in 1976 replacing the late Jimmy Clench. He was with the band from 1976 to 1984, some of their most productive years. Myles Goodwyn, April Wine founder, posted a YouTube of the song ‘Hot On The Wheels of Love’ with this note praising his band mate’s ability “This is a song written by Steve Lang and myself. I brought the tune, with lyrics, to an AW rehearsal for the making of the FIRST GLANCE album. As we arranged the song, Steve`s bass part was so creative and fantastic and helped define the energy in the song to such an extent, that I decided to give him a writing credit. It was deserved.” In another Facebook statement Goodwyn said “My dear friend Steve Lang passed away this weekend. Steve played bass with AW for years and his musicianship was exceptional. Steve was a very intelligent guy that used his smarts to do well in the music industry as a player/writer, and later, in the world of finance. He was a nice man, a real gentleman. The last conversation I had with Steve was wonderful. I`m so happy that we had the chance to have had it....My condolences go out to his family. He will sadly be missed by his friends and by fans everywhere.”

Peter Sarstedt of Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) Fame Passes On

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Courtesy of Ray Connolly The Daily Mail
Peter Sarstedt pictured with Anita Atke at London Heathrow Airport in 1969

Many popular songs catch the feeling of the time. That’s why they become popular. But few songs are able to freeze that moment to the extent that nearly half a century after we first heard it we can sing along to the lyrics.

That was what Peter Sarstedt, who died January 8, 2017 at age 75, achieved with his #1 smash Where Do You Go To (My Lovely). He was not quite a one-hit wonder (his follow-up, Frozen Orange Juice, also made the Top Ten), but Sarstedt’s career was defined by that No 1 song.

And what a song. Sounding unlike anything else that was around in 1969, it topped the charts all over Europe and in Australia, and was a hit even in Japan.

Just to hear that opening French-sounding accordion, playing in the then dreaded waltz-time — a rhythm your grandparents used to dance to — at the very height of the Sixties, should have condemned it to everlasting obscurity. But the very opposite happened. It touched an international nerve.

Tommy Allsup Joins His Friends in Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven

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Submitted by Don Graham

Tommy Allsup, the guitar player in Buddy Holly’s band for the Winter Tour in 1959, will join Buddy and Waylon Jennings in that historic trio in Rock ‘n’ Roll heaven. Tommy passed away in Lubbock, Texas at the age of 85.

Neither Tommy nor Waylon were on the flight that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. ( Big Bopper) Richardson on February 3rd, 1959. After Holly’s death, Allsup moved to Los Angeles, where he found work with local bands, did some session work, along the way earning a songwriting credit for The Ventures', "Guitar Twist".

Allsup had recorded with Holly before he began touring with him in the summer of 1958. The first song he cut with the rising star was “It’s So Easy (To Fall in Love).”

After completing the Holly tour, Allsup moved to California playing guitar in a Los Angeles nightclub where he met the head of Liberty Records. Snuff Garrett. Garrett hired him to play on a Buddy Knox session which led to more session work for the label.

Eventually, Allsup worked his way up to head of A&R for Liberty’s country music division. It was there that he produced Willie Nelson, Tex Williams and Billy Mize, amongst others.

Allsup moved to Odessa,Texas where he set up a recording studio after he left Liberty. It was there that the duo Zager & Evans recorded their song “In the Year 2525.” Allsup released the song on his own label, then it was picked up by RCA and went #1 on the charts.

Guitarist/singer Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer Dies

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Submitted Courtesy of Canadian Press
Journalist Jill Lawless
Photo: Emerson Lake and Palmer Provided by Canadian Wire Press

LONDON - Musician Greg Lake co-founded both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer — bands that helped define the sprawling, influential but often-maligned genre known as progressive rock.

Lake, who died of cancer at 69, was instrumental in bringing classical influences, epic length, mythic scope and 1970s excess into rock 'n' roll, winning millions of fans before punk swept in and spoiled the party.

Manager Stewart Young said in a statement that Lake died Wednesday after "a long and stubborn battle with cancer."

Born in the southern English seaside town of Poole in 1947, Lake founded King Crimson with guitarist Robert Fripp in the late 1960s. The band pioneered the ambitious genre that came to be known as progressive rock.

He went on to form ELP with keyboardist Keith Emerson and drummer Carl Palmer. With Lake as vocalist and guitarist, ELP impressed crowds at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, in a lineup that also featured Jimi Hendrix and The Who.

The band released six platinum-selling albums characterized by songs of epic length, classical influence and ornate imagery, and toured with elaborate light shows and theatrical staging.

Brad 'Rusty' Bakewell, lead singer of Jack Damage R.I.P.

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Submitted by Bill Ross

(Editor's Note: Brad 'Rusty' Bakewell, lead singer and master provocateur of hard rock crew Jack Damage has passed . Rusty never made the big time but every time he was onstage, he made it a big time. He was a very relatable dude and his big-hearted ways made a mark in many people's lives. The memoir below is from one of them.)

This is my friend Brad Bakewell. Most of you knew him as Rusty or Crusty Rusty if you were part of our scene at Rock'N'Roll Heaven. Rusty left us last week. Indications are it was from complications surrounding a near fatal car accident a couple of years back, in BC. Rusty was a complete rock and roll animal in the end. And for that we who loved him and thanked him.

Songwriter Mentor Williams of “Drift Away” Fame Dies

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Story Credit CMT / Journalist Edward Morris

Songwriter Mentor Williams, composer of Dobie Gray’s 1973 hit, “Drift Away,” died Wednesday (Nov. 16), according to the Taos (New Mexico) News. The location and cause of death were not reported, although he was a longtime resident of the Taos area. Nor was his age confirmable at press time.

Williams also co-wrote such country hits as Alabama’s “When We Make Love” (1984), Eddy Raven’s “She’s Gonna Win Your Heart” (1984) and Randy Travis and George Jones’ “A Few Ole Country Boys” (1990).

Narvel Felts had a Top 10 country hit with “Drift Away” in 1973. The song was later covered by Waylon Jennings, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison and Michael Bolton, among others. Uncle Kracker enlisted Gray to join him on a remake of the song which peaked at No. 9 on Billboard’s all-genres Hot 100 chart in 2003 and topped the trade publication’s adult contemporary chart.

Williams is the brother of singer, songwriter and actor Paul Williams, who now serves as president and board chairman of ASCAP, the performance rights society.
Mentor Williams had a romantic relationship with country singer Lynn Anderson from the 1980s until her death in 2015.

Editor’s Note: Cashbox Canada had the pleasure of meeting Mentor Williams brother, singer/songwriter Paul Williams many times at Canadian Music Week. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Paul Williams and his family on his loss.

Leon Russell Gone at the Age of 74

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Leon Russell died on Nov. 13, 2016 in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said that he passed away in his sleep.

The Master Of Space And Time was a legendary musician and songwriter originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma who performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over 50 years.

Leon was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2011.

Leon led the famous Joe Cocker's ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ tour and performed with George Harrison and Friends at the Concert For Bangladesh. Leon has also toured with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Edgar Winter, The New Grass Revival, Willie Nelson, and Sir Elton John.

Leon Russell Master of Space and TimeLeon Russell Master of Space and TimeLeon's songwriting credits include 'A Song For You', ‘Delta Lady’, ‘Hummingbird’, ‘Lady Blue’, ‘Back To The Island’, ‘Tight Rope’, and ‘This Masquerade’.

Leonard Cohen It’s Closing Time

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Submitted by Don Graham

“I’m ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable”. Leonard Cohen said these words not long ago. The iconic singer/songwriter whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died last week at the age of 82. Leonard Cohen's record label, Sony Music Canada, confirmed his death on the singer's Facebook page with the following statement.

"It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music's most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will be held at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief."

From some perspectives it could argued that  death has  been a part of  Cohen’s writing since he began creating  poetry but perhaps more present lately as he aged.  It was probably brought more to the forefront when Cohen’s living musical contemporaries, the ones who planted the seeds for modern rock and folk music, started passing on in numbers.  Elvis Presley, who was born a year after Cohen, died young in 1977 and  earlier this year, so too did Presley’s longtime guitarist Scotty Moore. David Bowie, who released his debut the same year Cohen did, also died this year.

In July, Marianne Ihlen, who was Cohen’s lover and muse when they lived in Greece in the  60s died  at the age of 81.  She of course was the Marianne in “So Long, Marianne,”

Before she passed away, Cohen sent her a letter that  was read to her on her deathbed.

Curly Putnam Heading For The Green Green Grass of Home

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Submitted by Don Graham

Claude “Curly” Putman, has died at the age of 85. Putnam was a prolific songwriter writing or co-writing such hits as Tammy Wynette’s classic DIVORCE with Bobby Braddock and the George Jones comeback hit He Stopped Loving Her Today. But he is probably best known for the all time favourite Green, Green Grass of Home, which propelled Tom Jones to stardom

Curly was born and raised in Princeton, Alabama, on a mountain named after his family where his father worked in the sawmill where he would also work after school. He went to Southern University Junior College before spending four years in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Valley Forge.

After leaving the Navy, he played steel guitar with a band in Huntsville, Alabama, where he met his future wife, Bernice They would marry in 1956. They moved around for several years eventually settling in Huntsville where he worked in a shoe store. As a songwriter he had his first cuts from Marion Worth and Grand Ole Opry star Charlie Walker. He was transferred to a Nashville store before moving to Memphis then back to Huntsville where he played in a band at night. In 1960, he recorded "The Prison Song," a top 30 single. On a 1963 visit to Nashville, he ran into Buddy Killen, who was working for music-publishing company Tree International.who hired Putnam as a song plugger.

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