Death Race 2016: All The Musicians Who Died in April 2016

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 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," 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."

April 2
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."

April 4
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!

April 5
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!

April 6
Dennis Davis, 64, American drummer (David Bowie, Stevie Wonder), cause of death 
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.

April 7
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."
April 11
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.

April 21
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.
April 24
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.

April 25
Eddie Watkins, 47, Polvo drummer

Proving you can't play math rock without a great time keeper.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic