As the year comes to a close, we've been thinking a lot about the musicians that we've lost this year. For some reason, it seems that some of the most innovative and unique minds in music passed away in 2010. We lost Mark Linkous and Captain Beefheart, Guru and Teddy Pendergrass, Jay Reatard and Lena Horne. Of course, we have plenty hope for the future of music, but let's take this time to look back at 20 musicians that we will miss.
In no particular order:
20. Alex Chilton
December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010
With his solo projects and bands Big Star and Box Tops, Chilton inspired generations of musicians with his downtempo pop and gravelly voice. He produced albums for the Cramps and the Gories, and was an understated of the incipient “alternative” music scene. His sound can still be heard in the works of more mainstream artists like R.E.M. and Elliott Smith.
19. Jay Reatard (Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr.)
May 1, 1980 – January 13, 2010
Tennesee's garage rocker Jay Reatard lived life and made music as hard as he could. He recorded 22 albums and produced his DIY brand of garage-punk at an astonishing speed. His catchy and edgy rockouts earned him much critical acclaim, as fans and critics looked forward to Reatard's promising future, which was cut short by his untimely death early this year.
18. Pete Quaife, The Kinks
December 1943 – 23 June 2010
As the original bassist and founding member of the Kinks, Quaife was instrumental during the band's part of the 1960's British invasion. He quit the band in 1969, but his low end mastery drives the band's hits like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.”
17. Lhasa de Sela
September 27, 1972 – January 1, 2010
The worldly folk musician mixed musical traditions from across the globe, including gypsy, ranchera, and country. Lhasa sang her her smoky vocals in three different languages, providing her beautiful songs for people around the world.
16. Ari Up
17 January 1962 – 20 October 2010
As the German-born singer and provocateur of the English reggae-punk band the Slits, Ari Up was a inimitable firecracker. She was the step-daughter of Sex Pistol John Lydon, and released her first solo album Dread More Dan Dead in 2005. She lived in L.A. near the end of her life, recorded the Slits' final album on the local label, Narnack.
15. Teddy Pendergrass
March 26, 1950 – January 13, 2010
As a soul and R&B star, Pendergrass was known as the “black Elvis” in the late 1970's and worked with the legendary producers of Philadelphia International Records. In 1982 he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He still recorded and performed, even playing a show at the Wiltern Theater in 2002.
14. Doug Fieger, The Knack
August 20, 1952 – February 14, 2010
Fieger was the lead singer-songwriter for the L.A. band, The Knack. He wrote their most well known hit “My Sharona,” which became a huge hit in the 1980's and beyond.
13. Malcolm McLaren
22 January 1946 – 8 April 2010
McLaren was the outspoken manager of Sex Pistols, New York Dolls, Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow and onetime boyfriend of designer Vivienne Westwood. He was a movie producer, entrepreneur, and the guy who brought rap to the UK.
12. Steve Reid
January 29, 1944 – April 13, 2010
The American jazz drummer played with a diverse group of musicians including Fela Kuti, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra. He most recently collaborated on a series of phenomenal albums with electronic musician Kieran Hebden from Four Tet.
11. Guru (Keith Edward Elam)
July 17, 1961 – April 19, 2010
Rapper, MC and co-founder of Gang Starr, the highly influential Guru mixed laid back flow over jazzy samples. His lyrics mixed humor and political themes all to his syncopated style.
10. Bo Hansson
April 10, 1943 – April 24, 2010
Swedish organist Bo Hansson was best known for his part of Sweden's psychedelic jazz scene in the 1960's. He was best known for his adaptation of “Lord of the Rings,” and for his song “Tax Free,” which was later covered by Jimi Hendrix. Today, his progressive sound has begun to resurface as psych bands in Scandinavia and beyond look to his vision for guidance.
9. Lena Horne
June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010
In the 1940's Lena Horne broke down racial boundaries as she became a world renowned singer and actor. She fought for civil rights throughout her life, and was blacklisted in during the McCarthy era due to her left-leaning views. In the 1960's, she worked in night clubs and became a civil rights activist. She mostly retired from music in the 1980's but never stopped working for equality.
8. Paul Gray, Slipknot
Slipknot bassist Paul Gray died may 25 due do an accidental overdose of morphine in a hotel near Des Moisnes, Iowa. He as one of the founders of Grammy-winning nine-member metal band.
7. Derf Scratch (Frederick Milner), Fear
Derf Scratch founded the seminal L.A. hardcore band Fear with singer Lee Ving in 1977, whose insane and incendiary antics were documented in Penelope Spheeris' film “The Decline Of Western Civilization.” Look for Derf spouting the phrase: “Eat my fuck.”
6. Gary Shider, P-Funk
July 24, 1953 – June 16, 2010
Shider was one of the original members of Parliment/Funkadelic, whose guitar-work and musical direction played a major role in the creation of their space-funk thump. His fretwork was a main component of hits “One Nation Under Groove” and “Cosmic Slop.” Not to mention, he also wore diapers on stage earning him the not-surprising name “Diaper Man.”
5. Ronnie James Dio
July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010
Sure, the man had big shoes to fill after Ozzy left Black Sabbath, but we love Ronnie James Dio anyway. He looked like witch and sounded banshee, and kept Sabbath kicking into the early 1980's. His solo project Dio solidified his status as a heavy metal archetype.
4. Michael Been, The Call
March 17, 1950 – August 19, 2010
Michael Been, the founder of influential Bay Area band, the Call, died in August, while back stage at during a show of his son Robert's band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Been's band set the stage for back-to-basics rock in the early 1980's and paved the way for the college, alternative, and indie rock sounds that would reside outside mainstream music.
3. Mark Linkous
September 9, 1962 – March 6, 2010
Whether he was fronting Sparklehorse or collaborating with Dangermouse and David Lynch on “Dark Night of the Soul,” Mark Linkous' haunting voice always felt like it could communicate beyond the grave. He had this uncanny ability to mesh melancholy with a sense of hope. It was sadness soaked in sweet brandy that still leaves a good taste after he's gone.
2. Teena Marie
March 5, 1956 – December 26, 2010
L.A.'s Ivory queen of soul Tina Marie broke into the funk and soul canon in the 1970's and 80's with her dance floor popper “Lover Girl.” She was Rick James' protege, and kept her career grooving until her untimely death earlier this week.
1. Don Van Vliet, Captain Beefheart
January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010
Captain Beefheart was a musical meteor that blew apart the theories and practice of music. He shored dissonance upon rhythm and poetry upon gibberish, fearlessly eschewing convention to make the music that was swirling in the bizarre universe inside his imagination. He was an American original and a national treasure. There will never be another like Beefheart.
Let us know in the comments of any other musicians who passed away this year that were important to you.