OUR TERRIBLE MUSIC LOSSES
With Trump soon walking away (we pray!), our great relief has to be muted by the incredible carnage he left behind. As we all know, he did nothing about the coronavirus when it was so needed in the beginning, when it would have made a huge difference. He saw it as a political calculation, not hundreds of thousands of American lives lost and the pain of all those families.
If he had done nothing it would have been so much better, than the damage done by calling it a hoax and making simple, vital precautions a sign of weakness and opposition to him. He was a catalyst. Mocking masks, dozens of super-spreader events in his name. He just didn’t care.
And now, of the more than 380,000 Americans dead, so far, too many of them were great musicians who enriched our lives and still had much to offer.
Last week I gave a nod to half of those casualties to whom I felt a personal connection, and now the other half. Thank you, and fare thee well.
When the Pointer Sisters hit with that first album in’73, and then we got to see them as well as hear them, everyone went nuts. The four siblings out of Oakland had mastered compelling, complex harmonies and marched out on stage looking sooo good in their thrift store ‘40s chic. I was fortunate to have nearly a front row seat at what I think was their first LA performance at the Roxy, and man did they put on a show I’ll never forget.
d. 6/8, LA, 69
I loved the original Fleetwood Mac founded by Green and world’s tallest great drummer Mick F. They usually had three guitarists, all phenomenal. He played for emotion not speed, and Brit music bible MOJO Magazine voted him the third best of all time. And a great songwriter: “Albatross,” “Oh Well,” “The Green Manalishi,” “Black Magic Woman.” B.B. King said, “he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” I have delighted for more than half a century posing the provocative question to music lovers, “… but have you heard Fleetwood Mac the blues band?”
d. 7/25, Canvey Island, UK, 73
Not only, but mostly, “I Can See Clearly Now.” My wife spontaneously let go with a few choruses just after our daughter was born, after 33 hours of labor. It’s that kind of song. An ode to joy. Nash was probably the first American singer to go to Jamaica to record, and he worked with Bob Marley.
d. 10/6, Houston, 80
EDDIE VAN HALEN
I kinda feel the same way as I did about Rush drummer Neil Peart, not a fan of their bands but Eddie V was so dang good (and fast) that he was one of the very few who changed the way those who came after played rock guitar. Died in Santa Monica — was he living here?
d. 10/6, Santa Monica, 65
For being musically astute enough to hear a 14-year-old Stevie Winwood once and form a band around him. “I’m a Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin,” both written by Winwood, made indelible impressions and I became a lifelong fan of the white soul singer who could also play organ and guitar as well as anyone you an name.
d. 10/19, LA, 81
A lot of performers cruise the rest of their careers on one hit song. Not sayin’ that Big Leslie cruised but his one hit song was way better than most, and I can still listen to “Mississippi Queen” 50 years later, for the gazillionth time, crank up the volume and dig it. I won’t hold it against him that many credit him with being a progenitor of heavy metal.
d. 12/22, Palm Coast FL, 75
SO MANY OTHERS
Gifted with such great talent, here is a list of other notables who will be missed:
JIMMY HEATH (93), ROBERT PARKER, “Barefootin’” (89), JON CRISTENSEN (76), MCCOY TYNER (81), MIRELLA FRENI (85), CHARLES WUORINEN (81), BILL WITHERS (81), WALLACE RONEY (59-COVID), KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI (86), LEE KONITZ (92, COVID-related), (JOHN “BUCKY’ PIZZARELLI (94 COVID), AURLUS MABELE (66, COVID), ELLIS MARSALIS (85-COVID), LYNN HARRELL (76), HAL WILNER, SNL, “Stay Awake” tribute album (64-COVID), FLORIAN SCHNEIDER, Kraftwerk (73), ANNIE ROSS (89), BETTY WRIGHT, “Clean Up Woman” (66), VERA LYNN “We’ll Meet Again” (103), MOON MARTIN (69), TRINI LOPEZ (83, COVID-related), JUSTIN TOWNES EARL (38), BILLIE JOE SHAVER (81), JULIAN BREAM (87), JERRY JEFF WALKER (78), ROY HEAD, “Treat Her Right” (79), CHARLEY PRIDE (86, COVID-related), HAL KETCHUM (67), HAROLD BUDD (84, COVID-related), TONY RICE (69).
One other odd note: quite a few of them passed on April 1. But musicians are known for their sense of humor.
QUESTOSWRECKASTOW: Jheri Curl Edition — A little while back I recommended QuestosWreckaStow, Questlove’s (The Roots) ongoing DJ nights he has been livestreaming out of his home in NYC during the lockdowns. The last show I recommended was his four-part series on Prince, which I would still encourage you to check out if you have not already.
Nearly all the videos are archived on The Roots’ youtube page, and while I’m confident you could pick any one at random and it would be great, I most recently listened to his “Jheri Curl Edition”— four hours of music, anecdotes, cultural contextualizing and music theorizing, featuring artists like Cameo, Patrice Rushen, Fatback Band… you get the idea.
I really like these shows because the selections are a choice mix of classics and deep cuts, and I always learn something new when he turns down the volume to impart some of his encyclopedic music knowledge. If you want to jam out and get an education too, go to youtube and search “Questlove presents #QuestosWreckaStow Jheri Curl Edition.”
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 35 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com