Obituaries

Moody Blues rocker Ray Thomas dies before Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Ray Thomas, a founding member of British rock group The Moody Blues, has died at 76, months before the band is due to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His music label, Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red Records, said Thomas died suddenly Thursday at his home in Surrey, south of London. “We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humor and kindness,” the label said Sunday. “It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife Lee at this sad time.” No cause of death was given, but Thomas disclosed in 2014 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Born in 1941, Thomas performed in rock and blues bands in the English Midlands city of Birmingham before founding The Moody Blues in 1964 with fellow musicians including Mike Pinder and Denny Laine. The band’s roots lay in blues and R&B, but its 1964 hit “Go Now” was a foretaste of the lush, orchestral sound that came to be called progressive rock. The Moody Blues’ 1967 album “Days of Future Passed” is a prog-rock landmark, and Thomas’s flute solo on the single “Nights in White Satin” one of its defining moments. Thomas wrote several songs for the band, including the trippy “Legend of a Mind” and “Veteran Cosmic Rocker.” Thomas released two solo albums after the band broke up in 1974. The Moody Blues later reformed, and Thomas remained a member before leaving around the turn of the millennium due to poor health. The band is due to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in April.

An honor WAY overdue…  We are very sorry to hear of Ray’s passing.  Thanks for the tunes, Ray.  R.I.P.

AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitar player and founding member of heavy metal legends AC/DC, has died, the group announced Saturday. He was 64. Known for the powerhouse riffs and rhythm guitar that propelled the group from Sydney, Australia, to superstardom, Young had been suffering from dementia for the past three years, the Australian Associated Press reported. He died peacefully on Saturday with his family by his bedside, the news agency reported. Young started the band with his brother Angus Young in 1973. “As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary he was a perfectionist and a unique man,” Angus Young said on the AC/DC website. “He always stuck to his guns and did and said exactly what he wanted. He took great pride in all that he endeavored. His loyalty to the fans was unsurpassed. “As his brother it is hard to express in words what he has meant to me during my life, the bond we had was unique and very special. “He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever. Malcolm, job well done.” Other musicians have taken to social media to honor the rock star’s legacy. Ozzy Osbourne wrote on Twitter, “So sad to learn of the passing of yet another friend, Malcolm Young. He will be sadly missed. God Bless.” “A very sad loss for rock,” Nikki Sixx wrote. “Rest in Peace Malcolm Young and Thank You.” Eddie Van Halen said it was “a sad day in rock and roll.” “Young was my friend and the heart and soul of AC/DC,” he said on Twitter. “He will be missed and my deepest condolences to his family, bandmates and friends.” Joe Elliot of Def Leppard said on band’s Twitter page, “I’m sad to hear of the passing of Malcolm Young.” “He was an incrdible guitar player & the glue for that band onstage & off,” he wrote. The Young brothers lost their older brother George Young, the Easybeats guitarist and AC/DC’s longtime producer, in October at the age of 70, Rolling Stone reported. Malcolm was replaced by nephew Stevie for the band’s last tour promoting the 2014 album Rock Or Bust. “Renowned for his musical prowess, Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many,” AC/DC said in a statement. “From the outset, he knew what he wanted to achieve and, along with his younger brother, took to the world stage giving their all at every show. Nothing less would do for their fans.” He is survived by his wife O’Linda and two children.

We are saddened to report the passing of Malcolm.  My first rock concert was AC/DC…back in 1981 for the “For Those About to Rock” tour…and have seen them many many times over the years.  The most recent being in 2009; probably the last tour with that classic 1980 “Back in Black” lineup with the Young, Young, Johnson, Rudd, and Williams.  Lot’s of great memories..and great shows.  Thanks for the tunes, Malcolm.  R.I.P.

Jerry Lewis, comedy icon and philanthropist, dead at 91

Jerry Lewis, the rubber-faced, squeaky-voiced comedy legend who starred in movies and musicals and also was known for his unflagging work on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, died on Sunday, his publicist confirmed. He was 91 years old. Lewis’ publicist confirmed the news to The Associated Press. The Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes first reported Lewis’ death. Lewis “passed peacefully at home this morning of natural causes at the age of 91 with his loving family by his side,” manager Mark Rozzano said. Lewis had gone through a series of health problems and scares in recent years. In June 2012 he was hospitalized for two nights in New York after collapsing with what was reported to be a low blood sugar problem. He was forced to cancel a fund-raising show in Australia due to poor health in June 2011. Lewis had been touring Australia to raise money for the country’s Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, which is separate from the American Muscular Dystrophy Association, where he served as president. He announced in 2011 he was retiring as host of the association’s Labor Day Telethon, which he began hosting in 1966. “MDA would not be the organization it is today if it were not for Jerry’s tireless efforts on behalf of ‘his kids.’ His enthusiasm for finding cures for neuromuscular disease was matched only by his unyielding commitment to see the fight through to the end. Jerry’s efforts on the annual MDA Telethon transformed the broadcast into an American tradition each Labor Day weekend for 45 years,” the organization said in a statement. “Though we will miss him beyond measure, we suspect that somewhere in heaven, he’s already urging the angels to give ‘just one dollar more for my kids.’” In recent years, Lewis also suffered from a back condition linked to a comedic pratfall from a piano, as well as heart problems. He reportedly had at least two heart attacks. The comedian who first gained fame as part of a duo with singer Dean Martin was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey. His parents were entertainers and young Jerry made his debut at age five on New York’s Catskill Mountains entertainment circuit. He began using the professional name Joey Lewis, but later changed it to Jerry, reportedly to avoid confusion with comedian Joe E. Lewis. In the summer of 1946, Lewis teamed up with Martin – first with a nightclub act, then radio and television appearances. Martin was the suave, debonair singer while Lewis was the zany, boyish sidekick with the huge grin and squeaky voice. They went on to make a series of movies together before the partnership ended in 1956 and both launched successful solo careers. Lewis became a major comedy star with his first solo film, 1957’s “The Delicate Delinquent,” followed by “Rock-A-Bye Baby” and “The Geisha Boy.” His later films included “The Bellboy,” “Cinderfella,” “The Nutty Professor” and “The King of Comedy.” He also appeared in stage musicals and in 1994 made his Broadway debut as the Devil in a revival of “Damn Yankees.”

And that’s just for starters..  To read the rest of this tribute to Jerry, click on the text above.  What an icon he was!  Thanks for the laughs Jerry!  R.I.P.

Glen Campbell dead at 81

Country music icon Glen Campbell has died at the age of 81. His family announced, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.” The star’s publicist confirmed that he died Tuesday morning in Nashville. The legend behind hits including “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” recently released his final studio album. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago. He won five Grammys, sold more than 45 million records, had 12 gold albums and 75 chart hits, including No. 1 songs with “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.” His performance of the title song from “True Grit,” a 1969 release in which he played a Texas Ranger alongside Oscar winner John Wayne, received an Academy Award nomination. He twice won album of the year awards from the Academy of Country Music and was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Seven years later, he received a Grammy for lifetime achievement. He released more than 70 of his own albums, and in the 1990s recorded a series of gospel CDs. A 2011 farewell album, “Ghost On the Canvas,” included contributions from Jacob Dylan, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. “Glen’s abilities to play, sing and remember songs began to rapidly decline after his diagnosis in 2011,” the singer’s wife Kim Campbell said in a press release in April. “A feeling of urgency grew to get him into the studio one last time to capture what magic was left. It was now or never.” Campbell revealed he had Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, but he went on to record two albums and play more than 150 concerts. At the time, Kim Campbell said the tour was a way to help her husband combat the brain-ravaging disease and spend time with family members who made up his band and traveled with him. He also starred in a documentary about life with Alzheimer’s, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.” He won a Grammy for his song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which plays at the conclusion of the documentary. The song also was nominated for a 2015 Oscar. His wife revealed in March that the singer could no longer play guitar or sing.

We’re very sorry to hear about Glen’s passing.  He was truly a legend and an iconic part of American pop culture.  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.  Thanks for the tunes, Glen.  R.I.P.

Joan Lee, wife of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, dies at age 93

The wife of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee died Thursday at age 93. Lee and his family released a statement saying Joan Lee died peacefully Thursday morning. The couple had been married 69 years. Lee’s longtime publicist Dawn Miller confirmed the statement’s authenticity when contacted by The Associated Press. No additional details were provided, and the statement requested privacy. Stan Lee co-created numerous Marvel Comics superheroes including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported Joan Lee’s death, recounted the couple’s first meeting in a story last year. It said Lee met his future wife while trying to meet another woman for a date in New York. The couple was married in December 1947 and had two daughters, one of whom died days after being born. The 94-year-old Lee has credited his wife with supporting him early in his career, when he was trying to create superheroes that he and others could care about.

Was sorry to hear this the other day..  Joan certainly lived a full and long life.  We send our prayers to Stan and the rest of the Lee family.  R.I.P., Joan.

Adam West, TV’s ‘Batman,’ dies at 88 after battle with leukemia, family says

Actor Adam West, famous for his straight-faced portrayal of the Caped Crusader in the 1960s “Batman” TV series, has died at 88, his family said Saturday on social media. West died Friday night “after a short but brave battle with leukemia,” the family statement on Facebook said. “It’s with great sadness that we are sharing this news,” the family said. “He was a beloved father, husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather. There are no words to describe how much we’ll miss him.” West played the superhero straight for kids and funny for adults. He initially chaffed at being typecast after “Batman” went off the air after three seasons, but in later years admitted he was pleased to have had a role in kicking off a big-budget film franchise by showing the character’s wide appeal. I’m delighted because my character became iconic and has opened a lot of doors in other ways, too,” he told The Associated Press in 2014. “He was bright, witty and fun to work with,” Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman to West’s Batman, said in a statement Saturday. “I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity.” Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington, he moved to Seattle at age 15 with his mother after his parents divorced. He graduated from Whitman College, a private liberal arts school, in Walla Walla. After serving in the Army, he went to Hollywood and changed his name to Adam West, and began appearing on a number of television series, including “Bonanza,” “Perry Mason” and “Bewitched.” In April 2012, West received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Most recently he did the voice of nutty Mayor Adam West in the long-running “Family Guy” series. And in February 2016, West made an appearance on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory’s” 200th episode, which marked the 50th anniversary of “Batman.” West was married three times, and had six children. He had homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, but he and his wife, Marcelle, spent most of their time at their ranch near Sun Valley, Idaho.

So very sad to hear about this earlier today!!  As a kid I grew up watching re-runs of Batman.  For more of this story, click on the text above.  Thanks for the wonderful, fun memories, Adam!  R.I.P.

Gregg Allman dead: Singer, organist for The Allman Brothers Band was 69

Gregg Allman, the legendary frontman of The Allman Brothers, died Saturday, a publicist said. He was 69. Allman died at his home in Savannah, Georgia, publicist Ken Weinstein said. A statement on the singer’s website said he “passed away peacefully.” Allman, who is credited with spawning the Southern rock movement, cancelled some of his 2016 tour dates after announcing in August that he was “under his doctor’s care at the Mayo Clinic” due to “serious health issues.” Later that year, he canceled more dates citing a throat injury. And in March 2017, he canceled performances for the rest of the year. “Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans essential medicine for his soul,” a statement on Allman’s website said. “Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.” The Nashville rocker, known for his long blond hair, was raised in Florida by a single mother after his father was shot to death. He idolized his older brother Duane, eventually joining a series of bands with him before finally creating the nucleus of The Allman Brothers Band. The original band featured extended jams, tight guitar harmonies by Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, rhythms from a pair of drummers and the smoky blues inflected voice of Gregg Allman. Songs such as “Whipping Post,” ”Ramblin’ Man” and “Midnight Rider,” helped define what came to be known as Southern rock and opened the doors for such stars as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band. In his 2012 memoir, “My Cross to Bear,” Allman described how Duane was a central figure in his life in the years after their father was murdered by a man he met in a bar. The two boys endured a spell in a military school before being swept up in rock music in their teens. Although Gregg was the first to pick up a guitar, it was Duane who excelled at it. So Gregg later switched to the organ. They failed to crack success until they formed The Allman Brothers Band in 1969. Based in Macon, Georgia, the group featured Betts, drummers Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson and Butch Trucks and bassist Berry Oakley. They partied to excess while defining a sound that still excites millions. Their self-titled debut album came out in 1969, but it was their seminal live album “At Fillmore East” in 1971 that catapulted the band to stardom. While Duane Allman quickly started to ascend into the pantheon of great guitarists, tragedy struck. He was killed in a motorcycle accident in October 1971, months after recording the Fillmore shows. Another motorcycle accident the following year claimed Oakley’s life. In a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, Gregg Allman said Duane remained on his mind every day. Once in a while, he could even feel his presence. “I can tell when he’s there, man,” Allman said. “I’m not going to get all cosmic on you. But listen, he’s there.” The 1970s brought more highly publicized turmoil: Allman was compelled to testify in a drug case against a former road manager for the band and his marriage to the actress and singer Cher was short-lived even by show business standards. In 1975, Cher and Allman married three days after she divorced her husband and singing partner, Sonny Bono. Their marriage was tumultuous from the start; Cher requested a divorce just nine days after their Las Vegas wedding, although she dismissed the suit a month later. Together they released a widely panned duets album under the name “Allman and Woman.” They had one child together, Elijah Blue, and Cher filed for legal separation in 1977. The Allman Brothers Band likewise split up in the 1980s and then re-formed several times over the years. A changing cast of players has included Derek Trucks, nephew of original drummer Butch Trucks, as well as guitarist Warren Haynes. Starting in 1990, more than 20 years after its founding, the reunited band began releasing new music and found a new audience. In 1995 the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won a Grammy Award for best rock instrumental performance for “Jessica” the following year. In 2000, Betts was ousted from the band via fax for alleged substance abuse and poor performance and he hasn’t played with the band since. Butch Trucks died in January 2017. Authorities said he shot himself in front of his wife at their Florida home. In his memoir, Allman said he spent years overindulging in women, drugs and alcohol before getting sober in the mid-1990s. He said that after getting sober, he felt “brand new” at the age of 50. “I never believed in God until this,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1998. “I asked him to bring me out of this or let me die before all the innings have been played. Now I have started taking on some spiritualism.” However, after all the years of unhealthy living he ended up with hepatitis C which severely damaged his liver. He underwent a liver transplant in 2010. After the surgery, he turned to music to help him recover and released his first solo album in 14 years “Low Country Blues” in 2011. “I think it’s because you’re doing something you love,” Allman said in a 2011 interview with The Associated Press. “I think it just creates a diversion from the pain itself. You’ve been swallowed up by something you love, you know, and you’re just totally engulfed.” The band was honored with a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2012.

Was sorry to hear this earlier today..  Thanks for all the tunes, Gregg.  R.I.P.