A heavenly lineup: From Amy Winehouse to Clarence Clemons, the deaths thatstopped the music
The end of the year gives us an opportunity to pause, look back and remember the people who passed away, but will always be remembered for the music they made. 2011 was no different, so in no particular order, here's a look at some of the people who are now jamming in the greatest band ever, may they rest in peace . . .
Clarence Clemons (1/11/1942 to 6/18/2011) Sure, we all know that Clarence provided the expressive saxophone for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band, but he also worked with Jackson Browne ("You're A Friend of Mine"), Nils Lofgren, The Four Tops, Todd Rundgren, Aretha Franklin ("Freeway Of Love"), Joan Armatrading, The Grateful Dead, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Ian Hunter, Twisted Sister ("Be Chrool To Your Scuel"), Alvin Lee, Joe Cocker, Roy Orbison, Gary U.S. Bonds, Janis Ian, Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze and Lady Gaga.
Gerry Rafferty (4/16/1947 to 1/4/2011) Rafferty, whose smooth sound set him apart from many of his contemporaries, was a member of many bands including The Mavericks, The Humblebums, Stealers Wheel ("Stuck In The Middle With You" and "Star") and The Fifth Column. He may be best know for his solo work which included "Baker Street" and "Right Down the Line".
Carl Gardner (4/29/1928 to 6/12/2011) He was a member of The Robins (They did, "If Teardrops Were Kisses" and "I Must Be Dreamin") and The Coasters (They did, "Charlie Brown" and "Yakety Yak"). Gardner was also the Father of singer Carl Gardner Jr. and he is a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee.
Amy Winehouse (9/14/1983 to 7/23/2011) Another classic example of a musician that was lost way too soon. To say that Winehouse was a singer, is a huge understatement.
She had many hits including "Stronger Than Me" and "Rehab." In addition to her solo work, Winehouse was also a member of Sweet 'n' Sour. Winehouse could collaborate with anyone, and she did when she worked with The Dap-Kings, Ghostface Killah, Mutya Buena and The Bolsha Band.
Phoebe Snow (7/17/1952 to 4/26/2011) A wonderfully gifted singer and guitarist, Snow recorded such hits as "Poetry Man" and "Sweet Disposition." She also worked with some of the biggest names including Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Boz Scaggs, Cyndi Lauper, Roger Daltrey, Chaka Khan, Lou Rawls, Buddy Miles, Al Green, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Laurie Anderson, Garland Jeffreys, Jewel, Donald Fagen, Billy Joel, Queen and Jackson Browne.
Jerry Leiber (4/25/1925 to 8/22/2011) Never heard of him? Well you should know him.
Leiber was a very busy songwriter and producer. He co-wrote, "Hound Dog" and "Stand By Me". That alone makes him special.
In addition, his songs have been recorded by The Coasters, Big Mama Thornton, The Drifters, Conway Twitty, Joni Mitchell, Count Basie, Dion, Elkie Brooks, The Robins, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Monkees, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Cheers, Edith Piaf, The Clovers, Stealers Wheel, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, The Everly Brothers, John Mellencamp, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Donald Fagen, Ben E. King, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin.
That kind of legacy is good enough to be both, a Songwriters Hall Of Fame Inductee and Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee.
Nate Dogg (8/19/1969 to 3/15/2011) Dogg was a Hip Hop/Gospel artist who was a member of 213 ("Groupie Luv" and "So Fly") and nominated for four Grammy Awards. He also worked with Dr. Dre, Warren G, Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Innate Praise.
Nickolas Ashford (5/4/1942 to 8/22/2011) The soulful singer and songwriter was half of the duo, Ashford & Simpson. The recorded such hits as "Solid" and "I'll Find You". Ashford wrote songs with his wife Valerie Simpson that were recorded by Ray Charles, The 5th Dimension, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Teddy Pendergrass, Chaka Khan, Rufus, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
All this made him a Songwriters Hall Of Fame Inductee.
Don Kirshner (4/17/1934 to 1/17/2011) Producer and promoter extraordinaire. Kirshner co-wrote Connie Francis's, "My First Real Love" and The Coasters', "Wait A Minute." He also wrote jingles with Bobby Darin and co-founded the Aldon music publishing company, but he's most known for the live music show Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and helped the careers of Bobby Darin, Kansas, Sarah Dash, Neil Diamond and Carole King.
Johnny Dee (1951 to 10/17/2011) While not really known nationally, no list coming out of Texas would be complete without acknowledging the death of Johnny Dee. Dee fronted the band Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88's which shared the stage with Wolfman Jack, Dick Clark, James Brown, the Beach Boys, Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker, the Pointer Sisters and Ricky Nelson.
Their website says "They take their fun seriously, which means you'll have serious fun with Johnny Dee & the Rocket 88's" which rings true with anyone who saw them live. While a great showman, I'll always think of the "Don't Mess with Texas" public service announcement Dee did.
Who else could have made an anti-littering campaign so cool.