Death Race 2016: Here are the Musicians Who Died in September- Please Pray!

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Now cognizant of the dwindling rock star pool that is 2016, you've no doubt you've clicked on a story like this a couple of times every day on FaceBook:

"BREAKING: Rock Music Legend Found Dead — Please Pray"

I only just noticed that the source of this click bait turns out to be Republicans. Much the same way right-wing wackos like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage have tried to co-opt classic rock for their hate-filled talk radio screeds, now you have sites like thepoliticalinsider.com and americancolumn.com trying to attract boomers in a sympathetic mood for dead rock stars who might maybe stick around for some lame duck hate on Obama and an up-to-the-minute calls for the head of Crooked Hillary. And the "please pray" might be a nod to the Christian conservatives who don't know where to turn this election season.

In July, the late great Scotty Moore was chosen to be the sacrificial lamb for these sites. In August, it was Matt Roberts of 3 Doors Down. And in September it is... (drum roll please... Matt Roberts of 3 Doors Down again!

That's right, the Republicans could find no one to shed a tear over this month so they turned poor, dead Matt Roberts into a late summer rerun. Admittedly for this brief 30 days hath September month, the death roll has been considerably low on star power - I mean, not one Rock and Roll Hall of Famer! If this was the Labor Day Telethon, it'd be Hour 14 where instead of Frank and Dean, we're getting Norm Crosby and Florence Henderson.

But we have and should shed tears over the loss of pioneering legends in zydeco, bluebeat, ska, country, folk, and southern hip-hop. 

Stanley Dural, Jr., a.k.a. Buckwheat Zydeco, 68, American accordionist and bandleader, lung cancer
Stanley Dural, Jr. has been the public face of zydeco for the past 30-odd years; hell, his name alone decrees it so. Just imagine if  Frankie Yankovic named himself Buckwheat Polka! Dural played with everyone from Paul Simon to U2 to Willie Nelson to the Boston Pops and entertained at both President Clinton's inaugurations (he probably would've played a third Clinton gala had he lived). Buckwheat Zydeco (the band) was the first zydeco act signed to a major label (Island) and the only zydeco act that played a small part on the big screen in cinematic epics ranging from Fletch Lives to the Dylan-inspired I'm Not There

Jean Shepard, 82, American honky-tonk singer-songwriter, Parkinson's disease
Along with Kitty Wells, Shepard was one of country's music's earliest honky-tonk angels. She had the forlorn voice, the high altitude hair, songs that gave people a good excuse to cry ("A Dear John Letter," "Slippin' Away") and the real-life tragedy to back it up like only a real queen of country can. This essential track, "A Tear Dropped By," was recorded in 1963, five months after she lost her husband Hawkshaw Hawkins in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. 

Shawty Lo, 40, American hip-hop musician (D4L), traffic collision.
A founding member of the Southern hip-hop act D4L, Carlos Walker went solo in 2008 with the single "Dey Know," which Beyonce paid tribute to during her set on the Formation Tour in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 26, five days after his death.

John D. Loudermilk, 82, American singer and songwriter, bone cancer
Loudermilk specialized in writing songs that sounded like they were written at a far earlier time.  His "Tobacco Road," a 1964 hit for The Nashville Teens, could've been a Lead Belly song and "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" sounded like a 1930s standard when The Casinos made it an anachronistic smash in the winter of 1967. His biggest hit was "Indian Reservation," which saw several permutations before it became a number one for The Raiders in 1971. His earliest successes came writing Eddie Cochran's first chart record "Sitting in the Balcony" and The Everly Brothers' eeriest death disk "Ebony Eyes." This song was banned by the BBC for its morbid lyrics about a plane crash, so naturally, it vaulted to number one in the UK. That it comes scarcely a year after the Everlys lost their pal Buddy Holly in a similarly fatal crash makes Don's spoken word passage about turbulence even more compelling. And yet he once likened releasing it as a single was like finding a large bundle of cash on the beach — although they knew it was wrong, they took the money and ran with it.

Bobby Breen, 88, Canadian-born American actor and singer, natural causes
The only reason I even know who this 1930s child star is, is because he was one of the few luminaries in the audience on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band  besides Dylan and Dion that was still alive, just to the right of George Harrison's left shoulder. What I didn't know and just learned was that Breen was the first white act signed to Motown! And not some shitty subsidiary, we're talking the flagship Motown label. They released two Bobby Breen singles in 1964 and had an unreleased album in the can before Berry Gordy's great white hopes for Breen waned

Fred Hellerman, 89, American folk singer (The Weavers), guitarist, producer and songwriter
The last surviving member of the legendary folk legends the Weavers, the subversive Hellerman wrote and co-wrote some of their hits. His political leanings got the band  in hot water and got the group became blacklisted as Communist sympathizers during the Joe McCarthy commie witch hunt. To measure just how red the Red Scare was, a popular group whose 1950 cover of  Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene" stayed lodged at number one for 13 weeks was unable to perform on television, radio and most musical venues from 1952 to 1955. Hellerman later produced Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant album.

Lewis Merenstein, 81, American record producer (Van Morrison), pneumonia
Imagine a less sympathetic producer getting hold of Van the Man at the point of recording Astral Weeks and you'll get that party atmosphere outtake of "Madame George" from The Bang Years —a bunch of musicians sitting around waiting for the next "Brown Eyed Girl" to happen and not actually listening. Merenstein let the jazz of those stream of consciousness songs flow through. And he knew where to get out of Morrison's way for the follow-up, Moondance, which Merenstein executive produced. Lewenstein also produced albums by Cass Elliot, John Cale, Curtis Mayfield, Charlie Daniels, and The Association, none of who ever sounded remotely jazzy.

Prince Buster, 78, Jamaican ska musician
Madness covered Prince Buster's "One Step Beyond," and his "Al Capone" morphed into "Gangsters" by The Specials. Buster was the second artist to chart in America with a ska record after Millie Small of "My Boy Lollipop" fame. Unfortunately, it's a song where Buster puts the low in megalomania as he imposes his "Ten Commandments of Man given to Woo-man."  Commandment six tells any prospective woman "Thou shalt not search my pockets at night or annoy me with your hearsays," which actually sneaks an additional commandment in. Things get more grave by Commandment nine: "Thou shalt not commit adultery/ For the world will not hold me guilty if I commit murder."

Clifford Curry, 79, American beach music and R&B singer
Curry's lone U.S. R&B hit was "She Shot a Hole in My Soul" that reached 45 on the R&B charts and 95 on the pop charts in 1967. Curry was known as the King of Beach Music. To clarify, Surf Music was for the kids shooting the curl and looking for the perfect wave. Beach Music was for the kids looking for a secluded spot under the boardwalk to shag. 

Farhang Sharif, Iranian musician and tar player, age 84 or 85
Admit it, you didn't know what a tar player was, either. Let's broaden our outlook and give the tar player some!

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