Death Race 2016: All The Musicians Who Died in April 2016
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to pay tribute to the times when His Royal Badness proved larger than life.
Warner Brothers Records
No doubt about it, we suffered two devastating music legend losses in April 2016, but it is heartwarming to know that alarmist podcasts like Infowars and websites Survivopedia.com have found the missing link between Merle Haggard and Prince and united them in death — yes, those geo-engineering chemtrails!
"Just to remember, both happened to be anti-government Chemtrail Activists, which included Chemtrail concerns voiced in the form of television appearances by Prince Rogers Nelson, and even a song written about Chemtrails by Merle Haggard," Survivopedia.com reports. "There were rumors that the two rich and famous entertainers were thinking about a world concert tour to bring mass attention to an esoteric but potentially one of the most horrifically sinister plots against humanity the world has ever seen."
News to me — now, everybody.
The Grim Reaper had had his own sinister plot against humanity, claiming these beloved musicians from various walks of "Pop Life."
Gato Barbieri, 83, Argentine jazz saxophonist, cause of death — pneumonia
Leandro "Gato" Barbieri played with fellow Argentinean Lalo Schifrin in the late 1950s. and trumpeter Don Cherry in the 1960s. Under his own name, he earned a Grammy for his score of Last Tango in Paris and recorded jazz albums for Impulse and later A&M Records. He is best known for his cover of Carlos Santana's "Europa," and occasionally performed it with the man himself. As Marlon Brando in Last Tango would've said, "Go get the butter."
Irma Bule, 29, Indonesian pop singer, cause of death — snake bite
Britney, what have you wrought? Sexy females dancing with snakes is one way for impoverished Indonesian women to earn some money for their families and make their mark in the (who knew?) highly competitive world of Indonesian pop. Ghoulish readers can see Ms. Bule get fanged in her thigh by a king cobra by searching via Google. Oddly enough, she refused to take the antidote offered to her and was declared "dead on arrival" at the hospital she was rushed to. The asking price for such snake charmless performances? 25 American dollars. It's $5 less without the snake.
But meanwhile, back in the States ...
Carlo Mastrangelo, 78, American bassist and doo-wop singer of The Belmonts
Mastrangelo joined voices with fellow Italians Dion DiMucci and the Belmonts. Try to imagine "I Wonder Why" without Carlo's basso profundo.
Dorothy Schwartz, 89, American singer of The Chordettes
Whenever movie makers want to capture the scrubbed clean innocence of the '50s, they license Chordettes songs like "Lollipop" and "Mr. Sandman." Hell, you can find both songs in the video games Mafia II and Lollipop Chainsaw!
Leon Haywood, 74, American funk and soul singer
He worked with Dyke and the Blazers before scoring his first hit with "It's Got to Be Mellow" in 1967. But it's his 1975 funk classic, "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You," which will live on in samples by Dr. Dre, Redman, 50 Cent and A-1, to name a few. And let's not forget his lasting contribution to pop vernacular — "Tenderoni" in 1984!
Dennis Davis, 64, American drummer (David Bowie, Stevie Wonder), cause of death — cancer
Davis played on more Bowie albums than any other drummer: the stretch between 1975's Young Americans through 1980's Scary Monsters. He also played with Stevie Wonder from 1979 to 1986. The standout drum sound he achieved with Bowie and Eno on Low — part drums, part trash compactor — is an unnatural thing of beauty.
Merle Haggard, 79, country music legend cause of death — complications from pneumonia
One of country music's all-time greatest voices was also one of its most misunderstood. Haggard went from juvenile offender to federal prisoner in short order, and managed to escape from several jails, which landed him in maximum-security prison San Quentin. There, he watched a fateful Johnny Cash concert and was inspired to turn his life around for good. And while Haggard never used his prison stint as a badass marketing tool, he never hid it either, judging from his earliest hits like songs like "Mama Tried" (about a young man who spent his 21st birthday in prison) and "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive" (his first country number one).
Haggard achieved his biggest notice from the pop world in 1969 with the song "Okie From Muskogee," which the country's Silent Majority took as a full-on endorsement of their anti-hippie, anti-draft card burning, and anti-marijuana views. To be sure, Haggard was in the joint, but he was not adverse to hooving on one. Just ask his pal Willie, who conveniently walks on in this video after that opening line about not smoking marijuana is dispensed with. The conservative views of "Okie" may have hampered him from connecting with the Woodstock generation like Johnny Cash did, but Haggard's no-nonsense singing and the Bakersfield sound was already influencing future country rockers like Gram Parsons and Dwight Yoakam for generations to come.
Jade Lemons, guitarist for post grunge band Injected, cause of death — drug overdose.
Injected's first single, "Faithless," was a top 20 single on modern rock charts. Minus the presence of girls in painted-on jeans and open beverages, and this clip could be any country music video today. Since splitting from the band in 2002, Lemons reunited twice with the band for one-off shows but the promise of new material never happened.
Jimmie Van Zant, 59, Southern rock musician, cause of death — liver cancer
Jimmie was the cousin of Ronnie and Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Donnie Van Zant of 38 Special. The Jimmie Van Zant Band were lesser known nationally, which has led to internet trollers accusing him of riding on his relatives' coattails. According to Jimmy, "There’s a brand name, but there is to be expected quality, and we try to deliver that."
Emile Ford, 78, Saint Lucian singer and sound engineer
"What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?" was legendary British producer Joe Meek's earliest production and Ford's biggest hit. But as a sound engineer, Ford had a pioneering hand in creating the basis for what we now know as karaoke, where you could sing this selection for yourself. But only in Britain, where it was a number one hit in 1959.
Lonnie Mack, 74, singer-guitarist
The influential rock guitarist is credited for being one of the first virtuoso guitar soloists. He is best remembered for his 1963 cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis" but Mack also played bass on The Doors' Morrison Hotel album in 1970.
Prince, 57, cause of death — still unknown
I've already eulogized The Purple One, so I'd like to use this space to ponder on why a man who had an aversion to elevators and warned us not to let the elevator bring us down in "Let's Go Crazy" was found dead in one. According to friend L.A. Reid, Prince once told him "The Elevator is the devil." With such a fervent belief, you'd think he'd maybe install an escalator or, I dunno, maybe a chairlift in Paisley Park.
Billy Paul, 81, American R&B singer, cause of death — pancreatic cancer
Paul's 1972 number-one hit "Me and Mrs. Jones" is one of my go-to karaoke songs, so I'll always love Billy Paul for that. His political followup to that popular slow jam, "Am I Black Enough For You," may have been stalled his career, but hardly sounds like a misstep from this soul-deprived vantage point.
Eddie Watkins, 47, Polvo drummer
Proving you can't play math rock without a great time keeper.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.