In Memoriam 2022

Honoring those we lost in the music world this year

Hargus “Pig” Robbins (Image: Discogs)

Throughout 2022, the music world has lost a lot of people.

There have been many of whom we’ve covered in remembrances at Rock and Roll Globe, but sadly we couldn’t accommodate the entire flood of losses we’ve experienced in the last 12 months.

Here are more of the great music people that the world lost this year.

 

DEAN TAYLOR: A Canadian on Motown, he co-wrote the Temptations’ 1967 hit “All I Need” and Diana Ross & The Supremes’ “Love Child” the following year. The underrated Taylor had hits elsewhere in Canada and the U.K., managing one across-the-board hit — the tuneful “Indiana Wants Me”, a 1970 slice of tragedy pop about a man wanted for murder who meets his untimely end.

 

MARILYN BERGMAN: With her husband Alan, she co-wrote a lot of songs for others, for studio albums, films and more — most notably “The Windmills of Your Mind”, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” “It Might Be You” and the “Way We Were.” In addition to those adult contemporary standards, she also had a hand in ’70s TV themes– “Good Times”, “And Then There’s Maude” and “There’s a New Girl In Town” (from Alice).

 

VIDEO: Good Times theme song 

JAMES MTUME: A talent who bridged R&B and jazz. He worked with a lot of people as a sideman in the ’70s, most notably as Miles Davis’ percussionist in the first half of the decade. Reggie Lucas, who played guitar on those albums, formed R&B group Mtume with him, leading to hits like “Juicy Fruit” and “You, Me and He” while the duo also had success as producers for the likes of Stephanie Mills.

 

HARGUS “PIG” ROBBINS: In movie history, there’s a long line of character actors who fall into an extent of “that guy/girl in that thing”. In music, Robbins was that guy on that thing. His first notable appearance was on George Jones’ “White Lightning” in 1959 and kept playing for decades, appearing on Connie Smith’s terrific 2021 comeback album The Cry of the Heart at her insistence. In addition to a number of albums under his own name in the ’60s, Robbins was always understably in demand as a session player. His piano can be heard on albums like Blonde on Blonde and Jolene as well as Kenny Rogers’ run as a solo hitmaker. 

 

DALLAS GOOD: Good’s death was sudden and shocking. The Sadies had finished recording an album last year and were getting prepped for its release when a coronary illness claimed him at the age of 48. Good meant so much to the band, as a singer, guitarist, one of its main writers and possessor of sensibilities that fit the Canadian band’s non-staid roots rock perfectly.

 

RICHARD PODOLOR: Successful producer most known for producing a bunch of Three Dog Night’s hits in the first half of the ’70s. He later worked with Alice Cooper on 1981’s Special Forces, an album helped by its production, but hindered by Cooper’s addictions. He also produced some terrific power pop albums in that period– the late Phil Seymour’s two solo records and 20/20’s second album Look Out!

 

C.W. McCALL: One of the things that disappeared with radio deregulation creating conglomerates on steroids was the novelty hit. In some cases, that hit tied into a trend, as happened with CB radio in the mid 1970s. There were movies and TV shows and there was a song that came from McCall, who didn’t actually exist. He was actually Bill Fries, a successful ad man who’d voiced the character in a series of bread  commercials. He co-wrote the one-hit wonder with musician Chip Davis, who’d go on to form the very non-country Mannheim Steamroller. As with most novelty hitmakers, Fries’ time in the spotlight was brief, but just hearing the first lines of his one hit can conjure up memories (“Ah, breaker one-nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck…”)

 

MICKEY GILLEY: Gilley was the one in the family without the personal life baggage, as he played music as a kid with cousins Jerry Lee Lewis (who taught him piano) and Jimmy Swaggart. 

It took a while for his career to kick off, but when it did, it was a Hall of Fame one. 

Gilley didn’t have his first hit — “A Room Full of Roses” until he was 38. Over the next 15 years, he’d have over 40 country hits, 17 of which reached No. 1. He also reached the pop culture consciousness as co-owner of Gilley’s, the Houston club featured prominently in the 1980 hit movie Urban Cowboy.

 

RONNIE HAWKINS: A true lifer, Hawkins started playing when he was a teenager, supposedly funding his musical side by running bootleg liquor from Texas to dry counties in Oklahoma. Hawkins was from Arkansas, but his rockabilly found a home in Canada. Going there at the advice of Conway Twitty, who’d found an audience for his rockabilly in Ontario, Hawkins moved up there and never left, a Canadian citizen for almost 60 years. Known for being an intense showman in his early days, he eventually developed a reputation as a man where up-and-coming talent could find a home. Fellow Arkansan Levon Helm was the only member of the Hawks to stay on with the move to Canada. That opened the door for the rest of who’d become The Band to join him. Even though they left over a number of issues, primarily low pay, Hawkins kept going. He played over 150 shows a year almost until he reached 70 with a variety of lineups, some of whom would go on to success elsewhere, including future middle-of-the-road hitmaker David Foster, then a keyboard player for future one-hit wonder Skylark.

 

JULEE CRUISE, ANGELO BADALEMENTI: Another singer inextricably linked with one song and certainly linked to its composer.

In Cruise’s case, it was “Falling”, the song which was the theme song for Twin Peaks in its instrumental version. That song had its roots a few years earlier, when Badalamenti was brought in to be Isabella Rosselini’s singing coach on Blue Velvet before his role morphed into composer.

He needed a song for a scene after it became too expensive to secure the rights to This Mortal Coil’s “Song to a Siren.” The song, “Mysteries of Love ” needed someone who could do an ethereal croon and he remembered Cruise. 

That led to their work on the Twin Peaks soundtrack together and Cruise’s first two albums with Badalamenti and Lynch. She later put out two solid albums without her famous collaborators.

Badalamenti and Lynch’s partnership continued through various other scores, including Mulholland Drive. The composer worked on many other films, including, yes, the 2006 Wicker Man remake, and for directors like Paul Schrader and Jane Campion.  

He did whole albums with the likes of Marianne Faithful and James’ Tim Booth, as well as songs with names like Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, David Bowie and the Pet Shop Boys. Despite the many other names, it’s Lynch he’s most associated with. 

Given the haunting quality of what he could come up with, it’s no wonder why Lynch felt the two were in sync whenever they worked together.

 

MANNY CHARLTON, DAN McCAFFERTY: Two founding members of Nazareth and key reasons for the success of their peak years passed away four months apart. Even though the band only had two big hits — “Hair of the Dog” and a cover of the Everly Brothers’ “Love Hurts”, it’s clearly listening to their work from that period that future rock bands were listening. It’s clear that a young Axl Rose was taking notes listening to McCafferty’s vocals. And Charlton was indeed asked by Guns N’ Roses to produce the original recordings of what became Appetite for Destruction.

 

VIDEO: Nazareth “Hair of the Dog”

WILLIAM HART: The Delfonics’ run as hitmakers was brief, but mighty. Hart was a young singer (with a killer falsetto) in The Orphonics, writing songs during slow times in his day job at a barbershop in Philadelphia when he was introduced to Thom Bell, then a staff writer/producer at Cameo-Parkway Record. Bell and Hart would team up to write R&B hits for the renamed Delfonics, led by crossover pop smashes “La-La-La (Means I Love You)” and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”. The hits dried up when Bell focused more on the Stylistics and Spinners. The group broke up three years later and spent decades after in the fate that’s befallen more than one classic group — separate versions of the group with the same name with different former members. In this case, his brother Wilbert fronted the other. He still had a commanding voice, as he showed on 2013’s Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics.

 

BILL PITMAN: Known for many years for the sound of his Danelectro, featured on both Pet Sounds and the TV series Wild Wild West, Pitman was a versatile player with the Wrecking Crew and elsewhere.

Pitman’s session work was everywhere — television and film, from jazz to rock. While he wasn’t a popular music guy, preferring jazz sessions, he appeared on a number of hits — “Be My Baby”, “Good Vibrations”, “Strangers in the Night” and “The Way We Were”, to name four. And it wasn’t just guitar, as that’s him on ukulele on “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

 

RAMSEY LEWIS: A jazz legend as well as one in the Chicago music scene, Lewis put out over 80 albums over 65 years. The pianist could deftly handle a number of styles, experiencing success in the ’60s when he incorporated soul elements, resulting in hits like “The In Crowd”, “Hang on Sloopy” and “Wade in the Water”. While his time on the pop charts was short, he remained a respected and busy jazz musician. 

He wasn’t a purist, either, experiencing success with 1974’s Sun Goddess, produced by Earth Wind and Fire founder Maurice White, who had previously spent three years as the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s drummer. The swinging cat vibe of The In Crowd had been replaced by more full-on fusion, aided by a number of Earth Wind and Fire members.

 

ANTON FIER: A skilled drummer who could be exacting on others as well as himself, Fier made his mark in multiple places. The Feelies classic debut Crazy Rhythms? He was the one playing those rhythms. When Bob Mould went solo after Hüsker Dü’s breakup? Fier was his drummer on the first two albums, with Mould later crediting Fier for teaching him a lot in those years. 

Then there were the Golden Palominos, formed by Fier in 1981, functioning as both a band and loose collective through the next 15 years. And that’s not getting into the first Lounge Lizards and his work as a drummer and producer.

The pandemic came at a terrible time for Fier, a man dealing with an ultimately fatal combination of financial woes, being physically unable to play the drums due to arthritis and depression.

 

COOLIO: He might not have been the first member of WC and the Maad Circle to be thought of as a future solo success (WC was). But it was Coolio who broke through after leaving the group after their 1991 debut Ain’t a Damn Thang Changed.

Solo, he delivered ready-made party jams that became hits in “Fantastic Voyage” and “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)”. In between, he reworked Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” into “Gangsta’s Paradise”, a far more serious affair reflecting lives Coolio knew from his teen years in Compton. It wasn’t written for the movie Dangerous Minds, winding up on the soundtrack because Coolio’s label thought it was too much of a departure. It became his biggest hit and would be the title track to his next album.

Coolio’s quality output wasn’t restricted to hits, at least in the ’90s. That output held up even as later material was less consistent and audience tastes changed.

 

VIDEO: Coolio “Fantastic Voyage”

JODY MILLER: As much as country music is understandably thought of as a genre that respects its elders more than others, some still fall through the cracks, especially if they’re women. 

Miller’s a case in point, although she played a part in her own disappearance from the public consciousness. She left Nashville and music in the late ’70s for a quiet family life in Oklahoma. Her only new music after that would be gospel music in the ’90s.

An artist with a clean voice who mixed country and pop well in a way that other artists would have more success with not long after, Miller experienced country success in the first part of the ’70s. She also had a pair of pop hits. “Queen of the House” was a witty parody of/riposte to “King of the Road” by Roger Miller (no relation). “Home of the Brave” cuts deeper, relevant in a way that Miller couldn’t have expected when it was released in 1968. Miller’s vocals strongly carry the empathy and kindness in the lyrics, full of what the modern day version of the song’s targets would call “woke bullshit”, making her point for her.

 

ROBERT GORDON: A rockabilly revivalist who just missed on greater success. The Stray Cats took his approach and went platinum soon after. He released the first single of “Someday, Someway”, but the song’s writer, Marshall Crenshaw had the hit with it the following year. Gordon, who got his start in the underrated CBGB-era band Tuff Darts, remained true to his musical self as he played with the likes of Link Wray, Danny Gatton and Chris Spedding. All that and an amusingly absurdist SCTV appearance to boot.

 

D.H. PELIGRO: The propulsive drummer for the Dead Kennedys in much of their original peak run with Jello Biafra  and the post-Jello years as more of an Undead Kennedys. When the group’s original drummer left for a career in architecture, D.H. stepped right in.

Peligro eventually got clean, but his addictions cost him a golden opportunity. He was Jack Irons’ replacement in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, remaining long enough to contribute to some of the material on Mother’s Milk. But the Peppers at this point were still reeling from the overdose death of guitarist Hillel Slovak and reluctantly fired D.H.

He mended fences with Jello, who spoke glowingly about him after his death, saying, “Despite all he’d done to his mind and body, I never thought we would lose him first. He was not just our powerful unforgettable drummer. He was a gifted singer, songwriter, guitarist and so much more.”

 

PATRICK HAGGERTY: In the ’70s, even flirting with coming out could be considered dangerous to one’s career. It was in the theoretically more open-minded rock and pop arena, definitely more so than country. In this sad period, Haggerty was unapologetically himself with his band, releasing the self-titled Lavender Country in 1973, full of songs neither closeted nor assimilationist.Haggerty performed in other projects, remained active in social activism and politics and found love. But the CD age opened the door to more people to discover Lavender Country (only 1,000 copies of the original album were released). A second album — Blackberry Rose– arrived earlier this year. Today’s openly gay country artists like T.J. Osborne and Orville Peck owe him a debt of gratitude.

 

TAKEOFF: One-third of Migos, one of the most successful rap groups of the 2010s with a number of Top 40 singles (topped by 2016 No. 1 “Bad and Boujee” with Lil Uzi Vert) and a couple of platinum albums. His death came under circumstances both sad and familiar. Someone else in the group he was with got into an argument with someone else and he was shot instead of the intended target. The mourning was widespread across the hip-hop community. Migos’ future, already in doubt because of bad blood between Quavo and Offset, is even murkier now, a lesser consideration as both are grieving still.

 

MIMI PARKER: Low has long been one of the most loved bands of the alternative/indie scene, a slowcore band that didn’t have you checking your watch to see when they’d finish. Her death from cancer seemed cruel anyway, but it seemed more so since the band had been making some of the best music of its career in recent years. She was both the perfect drummer and perfect singer for what she and husband Alan Sparhawk recorded all these years. There’s more that could be said, but check out their albums.

 

VIDEO: Low “Always Trying To Work It Out”

JEFF COOK: Lead guitarist and one of founding members of Alabama, the biggest-selling group in country music with 36 No. 1 singles (23 in a row at one point!).They even experienced some crossover pop success in the early ’80s, topped by “Love in the First Degree.” That crossover success cost them critically at the time, but the fans clearly didn’t mind.

 

GAL COSTA: Not to get into a long discussion about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here, but one of my personal pet peeves with it is how America-centric and English language-centric it is. Case in point– Brazil. If Os Mutantes had been from England, they’d have been in decades ago. The same might be said of Costa. She was one of THE voices of tropicalia music of the late ’60s and early ’70s (start with her self-titled debut solo album). She kept going, exploring different musical directions in an influential career that spanned over five decades.

 

KEITH LEVENE: A founding member of the Clash who left before their first album, Levene went on to be the influential guitarist in Public Image Limited. As Ride’s guitarist Andy Bell put it, Levene had “a guitar tone like ground-up diamonds fired at you through a high pressure hose.” Levene was a lot quieter after leaving PiL in 1984, only putting out one album over almost 20 years, but he remained respected by those in the know.

 

JET BLACK: Speaking of fortuitous, when the Stranglers were getting going, they hooked up with Jet Black, a man who owned a series of ice cream vans. Not only did they have access to a van for touring, they wound up with a terrific drummer who helped anchor the band’s hitmaking sound into the ’80s. An “old man” in the punk scene, he played until he was an actual old man, only stepping away in 2015 when he had to because of health problems.

 

MARTIN DUFFY: Duffy first arrived in the underrated Felt, one of the earliest bands in the Creation scene. He played on the first two Primal Scream albums, then joined full-time when frontman Lawrence disbanded Felt. While he played with others (including the Charlatans) and put out a solo album, it’s his time with Felt that made him fans in the UK music world and his time with Primal Scream cemented that fandom. As the latter’s frontman Bobby Gillespie said of his contributions, “He was the most musically talented of all of us.”

 

THOM BELL: One of the chief architects of the Philly soul sound, along with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. As producer, arranger and writer, Bell crafted a number of classic songs from the late ’60s into the early ’80s. As much as can be said about the orchestral and smooth (but never lifeless) music Bell made with talented singers, musicians and co-writers (particularly the late Linda Creed), his songs said it more. “Betcha by Golly, Wow”, “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Faling In Love”, “One of a Kind (Love Affair)”, “I’m Doing Fine Now”, “Then Came You”, “The Rubberband Man” and those eternal Delfonics hits.

 

VIDEO: The Delfonics “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”

 

 

 

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Kara Tucker

Kara Tucker, after years of sportswriting, has turned to her first-love -- music . She lives in New York City with her partner and their competing record collections.

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