Rock & Roll Heaven

Godspeed Ron Hynes

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Submitted by Don Graham

Ron Hynes “The Man of a Thousands Songs” and the voice of Newfoundland and Labrador has died. He was 64 years old. His family confirmed  he died shortly after 6 p.m. on November 20, 2015. while receiving treatment at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland. Hynes wrote many classic tunes but he is best known for his song “Sonny's Dream”,  a beautiful song about a mother losing her son to the sea. Written in 1976, “Sonny’s Dream” has been covered by artists such as Emmy Lou Harris, Stan Rogers, Valdy, Great Big Sea and John McDermott.

In July 2012, Ron Hynes was diagnosed with throat cancer and in August of that same year he performed to a sold-out crowd  at the Mile One Centre in St. John's. That was to be his last performance before undergoing cancer treatment. For this concert he was reunited with his old band, The Wonderful Grand Band. His cancer went into remission the following year and he went  back out on tour.

Musical friends and fans lit up social media with stories and personal memories of the iconic songwriter/ performer, some of them saying it was fitting that the city was plunged into darkness by a power failure as news broke about his death."The lights went out downtown," tweeted comedian Mark Critch, a fellow Newfoundlander. "St. John's is dark tonight and so it should be."

Great Big Sea’s singer-songwriter Alan Doyle described Hynes online as his "musical hero'' and "The greatest songwriter I ever met.''

P.F. Sloan Songwriter Gone At 70

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Submitted by Don Graham

Songwriter P.F. Sloan has passed away in his Los Angeles home after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 70 years old. Sloan was never a household name but his songs were played in households around the world. “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers and the anthem that propelled Barry MacGuire to eternal fame “ Eve Of Destruction”. It is still relevant especially today with the insanity in Paris. Sloan is also responsible for hits by The Turtles "You Baby" and "Let Me Be", Herman’s Hermits "A Must to Avoid" and "Hold On!" and “Take Me For What I'm Worth" by The Searchers. With musical partner Steve Barri he also had hits like “Where Were You When I Needed You?” by The Grassroots.

It has been said that because of the line "You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'", "Eve of Destruction" was instrumental in the changing of the twenty-sixth amendment to the United States Constitution, changing the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1971.

Sloan was also a session guitarist, working with such well-known backing musicians as drummer Hal Blaine, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, bassist Joe Osborn, and bassist/keyboardist Larry Knechtel, among others. While working on a song with Barry McGuire, Sloan created and played a guitar intro for a new song by John Phillip scalled "California Dreamin'". The track was used for the hit version by Phillips' group the Mamas & the Papas. Sloan played the lead guitar tracks on most of the songs he wrote, including the famous riff in "Secret Agent Man."

Three Dog Night singer Cory Wells dies at age 74

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Courtesy of NBC News

Cory Wells, one of the founding members of 1970s hitmakers Three Dog Night, has died at age 74. The death of Wells — one of the group's three lead singers — was announced on the band's official website.

Longtime bandmate Danny Hutton said that Wells died "unexpectedly" Tuesday in Dunkirk, New York. He said that Wells had been performing with the group until developing severe back pain in September. "Cory was an incredible singer, a great performer, he could sing anything," Hutton said in a statement. "Cory was like a brother in so many ways... I am in shock at this sudden loss."

Three Dog Night formed in the late 1960s and racked up 21 consecutive Top 40 hits, including "Joy to the World" and "One."

Wells — born Emil Lewandowski on Feb. 2, 1941 in Buffalo — joined the Air Force directly out of high school. He formed a band while in the service and went on to play with other groups in his hometown after leaving the military.

He met Hutton — then a solo artist — after both were invited to tour with Sonny and Cher. Three Dog Night — named after a story about Australian aborigines in the cold outback seeking warmth — was formed after that tour. Various iterations of the group have stayed on the road performing for 40 years. The band said that in addition to music, Wells was passionate about fishing — filming several episodes of "The American Sportsman" and participating in charity fishing tournaments around the country.

News of Wells' death prompted tributes from the world of music and far beyond.

Legendary Artist Billy Joe Royal Dies in His Sleep

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Four decades of an impressively resilient career, Billy Joe Royal’s soul-drenched voice was stilled on October 6, 2015, passing away in his sleep in his North Carolina home.

Billy Joe Royal got his big break when he was performing in Savannah, Georgia. His roommate, Joe South, asked him to record a demo of a song he’d written. Billy Joe did so well that he got a record deal with Columbia. With a string of hits in the pop world, he established himself with “Down In The Boondocks,” “I Knew You When” and “Cherry Hill Park”, establishing himself on the charts in the 1960’s.

Even as a kid, he knew music was central to his personality. Like many of his peers, he recognized that it could also be his source of income after he saw Elvis Presley—another guy who mixed, pop, country and R&B—on The Tommy Dorsey Show.  “When he made it so big,” Royal reflects, “all us Southern boys thought maybe we had a shot, too.” Elvis and Royal became friends when both played Las Vegas during the ‘70s.

After his initial success, he continued to make music signed to a number of smaller labels before finally settling in Nashville with Atlantic Records. In the 1980s he still saw success in the US Country chart, with songs like “Tell It Like It Is”and “Till I Can't Take It Anymore”.

Billy Joe Royal was honoured by the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988, meaning he now sits alongside stars like Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Otis Reading and James Brown.

At press time no funeral plans have been announced yet.

Frankie Ford, who sang 'Sea Cruise,' Dies at Age 76

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Courtesy of Associated Press

Frankie Ford, a rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues singer whose 1959 hit "Sea Cruise" brought him international fame when he was 19, is dead at the age of 76.

Ford died Monday of natural causes, according to the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, coroner's office.
"He was a great guy. He had the best voice in rock and roll," said Mike Shepherd, a friend of Ford's and head of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, which inducted Ford in 2010.

In addition to "Sea Cruise," Billboard magazine's No. 14 overall and No. 11 in rhythm and blues in 1959, Ford's hits included "Roberta," ''Time after Time" and "You Talk Too Much." His version of "You Talk Too Much" aired while Joe Jones' recordings of the song were tied up in court. Jones' recording eventually reached No. 3, while none of Ford's after "Sea Cruise" made it higher than 72, the mark set by "Seventeen" in 1961.

Shepherd said Ford had been ill for some time, and had been unable to walk since he was hit by a car in Memphis several years ago.

Ford had sung since childhood. His adopted parents, Vincent and Anna Guzzo of Gretna, brought him to New York when he was five to perform on the "Ted Mack Amateur Hour." His stage name was suggested, in a nod to hot rods, by Ace Records owner Johnny Vincent, according to his biography on the hall of fame website.

Michael Burgess, Canadian Les Misérables star, Dead at 70

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Courtesy of CBC News

Michael Burgess died peacefully Monday, September 28, 2015 in a Toronto hospice, surrounded by his family, according to family friend Bruce Bowser. The 70-year-old musical theatre star had struggled with basal cell carcinoma for a number of years.

Burgess played the role of Jean Valjean in more than 1,000 performances of Les Misérables at the historic Royal Alex and on tour across Canada during the 1980s. He also appeared in the production's 10th-anniversary concert at Royal Albert Hall in London. "Michael created the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, which was one of the first international blockbusters to have its own production in Canada with a local cast, instead of a touring version. He was magnificent in the role and led the all-Canadian cast to great heights," theatre mogul David Mirvish, head of Mirvish Productions, said in a statement Monday night.

Burgess was "that kind of performer that could walk the line between opera and musical theatre and connect with an audience," Daphne Burt, manager of artistic planning with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, told CBC News on Tuesday."You look out at a darkened concert hall and you can't see faces, but it still felt like he was looking straight into people's eyes." The NAC in Ottawa has lowered its flag to half-mast to honour Burgess.

Lynn Anderson Heading To Her Rose Garden

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Submitted by Don Graham

Country legend, Lynn Anderson, has passed away in Nashville Tennessee less than two months shy of her 68th birthday.

The Grammy-winning performer, whose 1970 single, "Rose Garden," was a country and pop hit worldwide, died after suffering a heart attack. Anderson had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia after returning from a trip to Italy.

She was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota on September 26th, 1947, to songwriters Casey and Liz Anderson. Liz Anderson was a recording artist and a songwriter, whose best known for writing  Merle Haggard's "I Am a Lonesome Fugitive" and "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers.

Anderson's first single was released in 1966, when she was just 19 years old.It was a duet with Jerry Lane titled “For Better or for Worse.” Although it failed to chart, her next single “Ride, Ride, Ride”, made it onto  the country charts, and the follow-up “If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)”, written by her mother, made it into the Top 5.

Anderson was a regular on the popular Lawrence Welk Show in the late ‘60s, which gave her exposure to a national audience. It was said that Lynn Anderson helped  broaden  the boundaries of country music because there wasn't a lot of country music to be found on network television at that time.

Lynn married record producer and songwriter Glenn Sutton in 1968 and he produced a few of her hit songs as well as writing several including“You're My Man” and “Keep Me In Mind.” The couple would divorce in 1977.

Bobbi Kristina Brown Daughter of Whitney Houston Gone at 22

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of late music legend Whitney Houston and R&B singer Bobby Brown passed away on July 26, 2015 at the age of 22. She had been recently been in the Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Georgia, where her family gathered to say their last goodbyes.

"She is finally at peace in the arms of God," the Houston family said in statement to ET. "We want to again thank everyone for their tremendous amount of love and support during these last few months."

Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive in her bathtub of apparent drug related issues on January 31, 2015, eerily in similar circumstances to her mother Whitney Houston. She was taken to North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, Georgia, where she was put on a ventilator to assist her breathing. Later the decision was made to induce a medical coma at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital.

On June 24, nearly two months later, she was moved to a rehabilitation center, where she remained until June 24 until she was move to the Peachtree Christian Hospice.
"Despite the great medical care at numerous facilities, Bobbi Kristina Brown’s condition has continued to deteriorate," Pat Houston gave a statement that day. "We thank everyone for their support and prayers. She is in God's hands now."

Ernie Maresca – Do Wop Teen Idol and Songwriter Passes On in Florida

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

From the early days of 1958, until its demise in the 1990s, the name of Ernie Maresca was a major part of the story of Laurie Records. The Bronx-born Italian-American songwriter, singer, producer and sometime hitmaker started out hustling his demos to Dion as a teenager and ended up running the company's publishing arm. Ultimately, he brokered the sale of the catalogue to Capitol in 1992 on behalf of Laurie's founders Gene Schwartz, his brother Bob and Eliot Greenberg.

Ernie Maresca died in his South Florida home on Tuesday, July 8, 2015. Confirmation of his passing was not confirmed until Saturday, July 11, 2015. Details of his death are not available at this time.

Rob Durkee of Cashbox Magazine US had this to say,  “While Ernie Maresca was in the Top 40 Disappearing Acts shows that Casey Kasem counted down in 1973 and 1975, he wasn't a One-Hit Wonder as a songwriter. For instance, he co-wrote this #1 hit from 1961, “Runaround Sue” and #2 hit from 1962 “The Wanderer” – both hits for Dion and the Belmonts.Among the other hit songs Ernie co-wrote were "No One Knows" (for Dion and the Belmonts); "Party Girl" for Bernadette Carroll; plus "Lovers Who Wander" and "Donna The Prima Donna" for Dion.”

Ernie Maresca had only one hit record on his own. In 1962 “Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out) was a major chart topper for the kid from the Bronx.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6k3BEU1aQM

Joe Bennett of the Sparkletones Passes On


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Story Credit: Dan Armonaitis

Joe Bennett and The Sparkletones once recorded a song called “Boys Do Cry.”

They sure do. And so do men and women of all ages, as evidenced by the tremendous outpouring of emotion expressed over the loss of a Spartanburg music icon.

Bennett, who co-wrote the early rock 'n' roll classic, “Black Slacks,” which, in the autumn of 1957, propelled him and three fellow Spartanburg County teenagers into national stardom, died Saturday, July 4th at night at the Rainey Hospice House in Anderson. He was 75.

Bennett had been suffering from complications related to Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, stemming from exposure to Agent Orange while serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Led by Bennett, the eldest of the group, on guitar, The Sparkletones included Wayne Arthur on bass, Howard “Sparky” Childress on guitar and Jimmy Denton on drums. The band is enshrined in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

“He was a dear friend. He was like a brother to me, and it hurts,” Childress said. “We'll miss him bad.”

A Spartanburg native, Bennett grew up in the Cannon's Campground community and, like all of his bandmates in The Sparkletones, attended Cowpens High School. Growing up, he immersed himself in music, taking private guitar lessons from the late Jerome Fowler, a Clifton-based music instructor who had previously taught the legendary Hank Garland.

As a child, Bennett started a band called The Jamborettes, which later morphed into The Sparkletones.

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