Death Race

All The Famous Musicians Who Died In June 2016

Here we are at the midway point of what has been the worst year for music having nothing to do with what was issued and everything to do with who was discontinued.

"Sure," you say. "We lost a lot of giants early in the year like Bowie and Prince, but now you're just exaggerating, and we're just losing a lot of Argentinian sax players no one cares about and at a normal rate. Why isn't anyone writing about how in June of this year four former beauty pageant winners (two Miss Worlds, a Miss Universe, and a Miss North Dakota) also wound up dead? If this were television, someone would be trying to connect the dots, or at least try to turn it into a titillating Law and Order: SVU."

No doubt, a lot of world-renowned musicians that mean nothing to you, Mr. & Mrs. American Music Buyer, were lost this month. You can find those in the big list at the end. But we've got a lot of musicians you can attach the "legend" tag to that no one would argue over. And sadly, we have one egregious murder that occurred a day before the the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001, and it happened to a musician in the same damned city of Orlando, Florida. Read, weep, and mourn.

Bernie Worrell, 72, American musician (Parliament-Funkadelic), lung cancer 
If you could imagine imagine Parliament's "Flash Light" without Worrell's integral moog work, well, you have a very vivid imagination. A most sought-after musician, he has played with everyone from Talking Heads, Les Claypool, Gov't Mule, Jack Bruce, and Bill Laswell to ... Meryl Streep? Yep, he was the keyboard player in her 2015 film Ricki and the Flash.
Christina Grimmie, 22, American singer-songwriter and talent show participant (The Voice), shot
Grimmie entered our homes in season 6 of NBC's The Voice and finished in third place. She was signed with Island Records for a short stint, and drew praise from singers like Usher, Graham Nash and Shakira, who said her range was "out of this world." When an out-of-his-mind gunman developed an "unrealistic infatuation" with her, a career that had only begun to flower was stopped cold when she was shot at a post-show autograph session. Grimmie's murder took place in Orlando, Florida, one day before the mass shootings there at the Pulse nightclub, where the body count and terrorism fears overshadowed this tragedy's coverage.

Scotty Moore, 84, American guitarist (Elvis Presley)
When he released an album named  The Guitar that Changed the World in 1964,  it was no hyperbole. Moore's work with Elvis at Sun and later at RCA, and defined the role of rock lead guitarist for generations to come. Most teens who watched his appearance on The Milton Berle Show grew up wanting to be as cool as Elvis, but look how equally cool Scotty Moore looks here peeling off that solo. Thank goodness a lot of kids here and in Great Britain grew up wanting to be Scotty Moore. Who knows what the world would've sounded like if they hadn't.
Chips Moman, 79, American songwriter and record producer (Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack, B.J Thomas)
And we lost yet another of Elvis' inner circle, as far as recording goes. Moman started out as a Stax Records producer (he helmed the labels's first hit "Gee Whiz") before starting his own Memphis recording studio, American Sound Studio. There he recorded and produced hits by Sandy Posey, Neil Diamond ("Sweet Caroline" in particular), the Box Tops, B. J. Thomas, Joe Tex, and Wilson Pickett. He produced the last credible music Elvis Presley made, the From Elvis in Memphis album, and his last number-one hit, "Suspicious Minds."

As a songwriter, he co-wrote B.J. Thomas' "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," Aretha Franklin's "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," and the all-time best cheating song, "The Dark End of the Street."
Attrell Cordes, 46, American rhythm and blues singer (P.M. Dawn), renal disease 
Known as Prince Be the Nocturnal and part of the hip-hop act P.M. Dawn, Cordes was part of a group that topped the pop charts sampling Spandau Ballet's "True," and the world was better for it. And the people had indeed spoken with their record-buying dollars, since it was the first number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after the Nielsen SoundScan was factored into the chart. 
Ralph Stanley, 89, American bluegrass musician (The Stanley Brothers), Grammy winner (2002), skin cancer
Also known as Dr. Ralph Stanley. If you're talking bluegrass, you're talking Stanley, who sang and played banjo with his brother Carter as part of the Stanley Brothers and as the leader of the Clinch Mountain Boys. You who do not travel in bluegrass circles have heard him also, as Stanley's work was featured in 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, singing the very apropos and unforgettable "O Death."

Chris Warren, 49, American musician (WWE), cause of death unknown
Warren and his DX Band provided a lot of music for a lot of World Wrestling Entertainment music but is best known for the entrance theme of professional wrestling stable D-Generation X called "Break It Down." Makes you feel like throwing a folding chair to know this voice is no longer.

Henry McCullough, 72, Northern Irish guitarist (Spooky Tooth, Wings, The Grease Band), aftereffects of stroke
He played with Joe Cocker's Grease Band at the Woodstock Festival and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, but his highest profile on the world stage was playing in Paul McCartney's Wings from 1972 to 1973, where he played the exquisite lead on "My Love" which, against McCartney's controlling direction, was improvised live with an orchestra in the studio. McCartney tired of McCullough's excessive drinking and throwing up during a Top of the Pops appearance but not before McCullough tired of Macca telling him what to play. He quit the band on the eve of recording Band on the Run. Later McCullough recorded an album on the Dark Horse label owned by George Harrison, who also tired of having Macca tell him what to play some time earlier.

Wayne Jackson, 74,  trumpeter of the Memphis Hornscongestive heart failure
His work with Andrew Love as the in-house horn section at Stax Records was perhaps the signature soul sound of all tine. After blowing reeds for the likes of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Rufus Thomas at Stax, the duo began working independently as the Memphis Horns, doing session work for the likes of Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, Al Green, and Dusty Springfield. The duo also toured with acts like the Doobie Brothers and Jimmy Buffett. In 2012, the Memphis Horns were recognized for their contributions with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

On this Otis track, you can hear a call and response meant for the Big O and the audience, but it's really a duet between Otis and the Memphis Horns. 

Alan Wise, 63, British music promoter and artist manager
A major linchpin behind the Manchester post-punk music scene which begat Factory Records, Joy Division, and New Order, Wise also managed Nico in the Eighties and was music promoter for bands like the Fall. In death, Wise managed to do what Ian Curtis failed to do without a noose: die of a broken heart. Three months after the death of his daughter, who didn't receive proper treatment for depression, a distraught Wise passed in his sleep. 
Dave Swarbrick, 75, British folk musician and singer-songwriter (Fairport Convention), emphysema
On the same day we lost Muhammad Ali, we said goodbye to an English musician for whom the appellation "The Greatest" wouldn't seem out of place if we were canonizing British folk fiddle players. His work with Fairport Convention from 1969 to 1979 increased the world interest in both electric British folk as well as traditional English folk music. Here at Glastonbury Fayre 1971, you can hear a young Swarbrick in action and see a lot of British hippies skipping to their lou.

Rob Wasserman, 64, American musician (David Grisman Quintet, RatDog), cancer
A session man who has worked with such singer-songwriters as Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Jerry Garcia, Rickie Lee Jones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, and Lou Reed, Wasserman also co-headed Ratdog with Bob Weir for many years following the demise of Jerry Garcia and the end of the Grateful Dead. Believe it or not, this was the shortest YouTube clip of RatDog I could find where you can also see and hear Wasserman.

Bobby Curtola, 73, Canadian singer
Besides writing and performing the "Things Go Better With Coca Cola" jingle that lasted throughout the '60s, this Canadian teen idol had many international hits in the early '60s, including "Indian Giver," "Aladdin," and his biggest chart topper, "Fortune Teller." No, not that one. This one.

Amber Gurung, 78, Nepalese musician and composer (national anthem)
Known as the father of modern Nepali music, Gurung brought a lot of Western elements to the Nepali music scene and wrote the jaunty Nepalese national anthem. Sing along if you know the words.
Mack Rice, 82, American songwriter ("Mustang Sally", "Respect Yourself") and singer, complications of Alzheimer's disease
Also known as Sir Mack Rice. Fact: You have never entered a bar and not heard "Mustang Sally." But you probably never heard his version, or his 1976 recording paying tribute to another hero we lost this month.

June musician deaths in chronological order
June  1
Alan Wise, 63, British music promoter and artist manager, "broken heart"

June 3
Dave Swarbrick, 75, British folk musician and singer-songwriter (Fairport Convention), emphysema

June 4
Phyllis Curtin, 94, American soprano
Bobby Curtola, 73, Canadian singer

June 6

Rolf Schweizer, 80, German composer

June 7
Amber Gurung, 78, Nepalese musician and composer
Terje Fjærn, 73, Norwegian orchestra conductor

June 8
Vladislav Yankovsky, 64, Russian musician (Novosibirsk Youth Symphony Orchestra)

June 9
J. Reilly Lewis, 71, American choral conductor and Baroque music specialist, heart attack

June 10
Christina Grimmie, 22, American singer and The Voice participant, shot
Habib, 63, Iranian singer, heart attack

June 12
Chris Warren, 49, American musician

June 13
Chips Moman, 79, American songwriter ("(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song") and record producer (Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack), Grammy winner (1976)
Randy Jones, 72, British-born American jazz musician (Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, Maynard Ferguson)

June 14
Henry McCullough, 72, Northern Irish guitarist (Spooky Tooth, Wings, The Grease Band)
OJB Jezreel, 49, Nigerian singer and record producer

June 16
Jerome Teasley, 67, American drummer
Charles Thompson, 98, American pianist.

June 17
Attrell Cordes, 46, American rhythm and blues singer (P.M. Dawn), renal disease
Tenor Fly, English rapper and ragga vocalist

June 18
Peter Feuchtwanger, 76, German-born British pianist, composer,  and piano teacher.
Alejandro Jano Fuentes, 45, American singer (La Voz ... México), shot
Sverre Kjelsberg, 69, Norwegian musician (Pussycats) and 1980 Eurovision Song Contest
Bill Ham, 79, American band manager (ZZ Top)

June 19
Bob Williamson, 67, British songwriter and comedian

June 20
Chayito Valdez, 71, Mexican-born American folk singer and actress, complications from a cerebral hemorrhage

June 2
Wayne Jackson, trumpeter of the Memphis Horns, 74, congestive heart failure
Freddy Powers, 84, American musician, Parkinson's disease

June 22
Harry Rabinowitz, 100, British music composer (Reilly, Ace of Spies) and conductor (Chariots of Fire, Cats)
Samir Roychoudhury, 82, Indian writer (Hungry Generation).
Amjad Sabri, 45, Pakistani qawwali singer, shot
Steve French, 56, American gospel singer
Jim Boyd, 60, American singer-songwriter
Leo Brennan, 90, Irish musician, founder of Leo's Tavern
Mike Hart, 72, British singer-songwriter

June 23
Shelley Moore, 84, British-born American jazz singer
Ralph Stanley, 89, American bluegrass musician (the Stanley Brothers), Grammy winner (2002), skin cancer

June 24
Bernie Worrell, 72, American musician (Parliament-Funkadelic), lung cancer

June 25
Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, 89, Indian writer, multiple organ failure
Ben Patterson, 82, American artist and musician
Elliot Wolff, 61, American songwriter and music producer

June 26
Mike Pedicin, 98, American jazz bandleader

June 27
Mack Rice, 82, American songwriter ("Mustang Sally," "Respect Yourself") and singer, complications of Alzheimer's disease

June 28
Scotty Moore, 84, American guitarist (Elvis Presley)

June 29
Inocente Carreño, 96, Venezuelan composer
Veena Sahasrabuddhe, 67, Indian singer and composer
Rob Wasserman, 64, American musician (David Grisman Quintet, RatDog), cancer

June 30
Don Friedman, 81, American jazz pianist
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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic