Obituaries, March 25, 2023
Francois Guy, a renowned Quebecois songwriter, died on May 12, after a fall at his cottage in Labelle, in the Laurentians, at age 76.
SOCAN's Words & Music wrote that this "put an end to a prolific career in chanson québécoise. Whether through his numerous compositions over six decades, or his involvement with SACEF (Société pour l’avancement de la chanson d’expression française) for more than 15 years, Guy left his mark on a whole era. He added his own cornerstone to the edifice of the Francophone repertoire, and mentored the next generation of singers through the Ma Première Place des Arts contest, among others."
"Reaching an audience via the band Les Sinners in the late ’60s, and, from 1968, by his next group, La Révolution Française, Guy co-wrote the rallying anthem Québécois, that would be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. It was one of the first rock songs to sing about Québec’s independence, a theme that, until then, had been mostly reserved for folksingers. The song’s powerful message captured the era’s zeitgeist, which was the key to its success, and Québécois became the province’s best-selling single in 1970, with more than 100,000 copies sold."
Guy released five solo albums and a series of singles between 1973 and 1983, and participated in the creation of several musical revues, including Cirociel in 1976, before re-orienting his career toward talent development. He did write for other artists, including Chloé Sainte-Marie, Véronique Béliveau, Renée Martel, Gildor Roy, and Francine Raymond with Y a les mots, a hit song that became a SOCAN Classic in 2018.
His final album was 2010's Je préfère le bonheur, a collaboration with his accomplice Manuel Brault, and other lyricists, such as Mario Proulx and Jean-Guy Prince. “I’ve never really left songwriting behind,” said Guy in a story published in SOCAN’s Paroles & Musique magazine in 2010. “I never stopped writing. I just grew old. When you’re younger, you’re more dynamic, but as you grow older, you become a better singer. You reach a certain level of mastery, you know yourself better, your capacities, your range, your interpretation, the value of the words.”
Sources: SOCAN Words & Music, Radio Canada
Dieter Radecki, retired former VP of PolyGram Int. & GM Polygram Canada, died on May 19 at age 85 in St. Jerome outside the Laurentian town of St. Sauveur where he spent much of his retirement.
According to daughter Barbara Radecki, “he was in peace at the end and was ready for what was to come. In his readiness, he prepared all of us and we could be together, sharing stories, messages, memories, and song. We listened to his favourite music and played recordings of him singing German lieder with his siblings. These special moments gave him great comfort. “
Radecki was born in Riga, Latvia, and emigrated from Germany to Canada when he was 18.
Pete Brown, a British countercultural poet, singer and Cream lyricist, died on May 20, aged 82, of cancer.
The Guardian writes that "Brown will perhaps best be remembered for his longstanding creative partnership with Jack Bruce, which began in 1965 and lasted until the latter’s death in 2014. Brown was invited by drummer Ginger Baker to help finish the debut single by Cream. Brown would go on to write lyrics for Cream songs such as their first Top 20 hit I Feel Free, the hippy anthem Sunshine of Your Love, and White Room, its darkly tripped-out lyrics a source of fascination to generations of listeners."
Brown remained Bruce’s go-to lyricist for most of his solo albums after Cream disbanded in 1968, from his acclaimed debut Songs for a Tailor, a UK Top 10 hit in 1969, to Silver Rails in 2014.
Brown was also an important proponent of British beat poetry. He formed the First Real Poetry Band in the early 1960s, delivering poetry in front of a quartet of jazz musicians who included guitarist John McLaughlin, and held down a jazz poetry residency at London’s Marquee Club. After his work with Cream, and an increasing embrace of singing, came a new band playing psychedelic jazz and blues, Pete Brown and the Battered Ornaments, though he was edged out of the lineup after the 1969 album A Meal You Can Shake Hands With in the Dark.
His other projects included the band Piblokto!, a collaboration with Graham Bond, and script writing, including the screenplay for children’s film Felix the Cat: the Movie in 1988. In 2010 he wrote a memoir, White Rooms & Imaginary Westerns, and wrote lyrics for Procol Harum’s final album Novum in 2017. Earlier this year he completed sessions for a planned solo album, entitled Shadow Club, featuring Eric Clapton and others.
Read a final interview with Brown here.
Sources: The Guardian, Billboard
Rolf Harris, an artist, musician and TV personality, who was jailed for sexual assaults against girls and young women, died on 10 May, at age 93, of neck cancer.
The Guardian notes that "his career as one of the most recognizable performers on British TV ended in disgrace after he was found guilty of the indecent assault of teenage girls. A household name from the 1960s onwards, Harris’s reputation as an entertainer and artist was shattered when he was arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal. Aged 84, he was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail in 2014 for 12 indecent assaults on four young women and girls between 1968 and 1986.
Harris had enjoyed a successful career in Britain since arriving from Australia in 1952. He rose to great popularity with his own shows for children and adults from the late 1960s, including The Rolf Harris Show and Rolf’s Cartoon Club. He received an MBE in 1968, an OBE in 1977 and a CBE in 2006, but was later stripped of the honours.. In 2012, a year before his arrest, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.
He also released 30 studio albums and had hit novelty songs such as Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, Two Little Boys and a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. He appeared at the Glastonbury festival several times. Thanks to his TV work, he became one of Britain’s best-known artists, and in 2005 he was commissioned to paint an official portrait of the Queen.
Read more here
Barry Jenkin (aka Dr. Rock), one of New Zealand's most popular rock radio hosts, died on May 16 at the age of 75.
The NZ Herald offered this tribute: “'Good evening, citizens.' Those are the words that a generation of New Zealanders who love music will forever associate with Barry Jenkin, aka Dr Rock, the broadcaster who once held one of the most powerful positions in the country’s music industry.
"Over the course of his four-decade broadcasting career, Jenkin ardently supported everyone from The Stones to The Cure while also lending his voice to a sizable number of television voiceovers. Jenkin alternated long shifts with the state-controlled ZM and Radio Hauraki in the 1970s, a time when Radio Hauraki frequently dominated the Auckland market. That is where the nickname Dr. Rock stuck.
He is credited with boosting the career of both NZ and international punk and new wave artists. Later in the 1980s he gave up DJ-ing and music (he claims to have been let go by five radio stations) and jumped right into doing voice-overs for advertising agencies, film studios, and corporate video producers.
Sources: NZ Herald, Audioculture
Chas Newby, a former Former “fill-in” Beatles bass player and a member of John Lennon’s first band, The Quarrymen, has died at age 81. A cause of death has yet to be announced.
Newby briefly played as a fill-in bassist for the Beatles during several gigs in 1960, deputising for Stuart Sutcliffe. The group's’ first left-handed bassist, Newby also played in The Quarrymen.
“It’s with great sadness to hear about the passing of Chas Newby,” wrote The Cavern Club Liverpool, where the Beatles began their career. Other tributes to the musician have included posts from the brother of former Beatles drummer Pete Best and Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn.
John Lennon asked him to remain with the group for their second trip to West Germany, but Newby chose to return to university.
Newby went on to teach high school mathematics and played in a charity band called the Racketts. In 2016, he began performing with the reformed Quarrymen.
Andrew Penhallow, a pioneer in the early days of Australian electronic music, has died. His age and the cause of death have not been reported.
His passing was confirmed on May 17 in a post by Boxcar, one of the Australian artists released on his Volition Records label in the 1990s.
Penhallow worked as the Australiasian arm of Factory Records, looking after Tony Wilson's legendary catalogue in Australia throughout the 1980s. The label was one of the UK's key tastemakers and Penhallow spearheaded its success downunder. In the late 80s he started his own label Volition Records, becoming an important bridge between the worlds of rock and electronic.
He supported the growth of seminal Australian electronic acts including Severed Heads, Boxcar, Itch-E and Scratch-E, Single Gun Theory, FSOM, South End, and Robert Racic, some of whom gained commercial success.
In 1994 Penhallow co-founded the Boiler Room at the Big Day Out. Volition ended in 1997 with Penhallow re-emerging with publishing company Higher Songs and management company 2000AV where he steered the career of Love Tattoo. He also worked with Pulse Radio, Australia's first internet radio station and created albums with Grafton Primary, Waldo G and Pty Ltd via his A Higher Sound production company co-founded with Craig Obey. He founded Resolution Music in 2005, working with such bands as Nantes and Quails and continued innovating with enterprises like club servicing platform Concrete Promo.
Source: Noise11, TheMusicNetwork, Billboard
Andy Rourke, bassist with Anglo indie-pop heroes The Smiths, died in mid- May, of pancreatic cancer, at age 59.
In a Facebook tribute, Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr recalled, in part, that "Throughout our teens we played in various bands around South Manchester before making our reputations with The Smiths from 1982 to 1987, and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player. I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session. Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling baselines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold. But one time which always comes to mind was when I sat next to him at the mixing desk watching him play his bass on the song The Queen Is Dead. It was so impressive that I said to myself ‘I’ll never forget this moment.’
We maintained our friendship over the years, no matter where we were or what was happening and it is a matter of personal pride as well as sadness that the last time Andy played on stage was with me and my band at Maddison Square Garden in September 2022."
Andy will always be remembered, as a kind and beautiful soul by everyone who knew him, and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music. Well done Andy. We’ll miss you brother. Johnny x"
Rourke joined The Smiths shortly after his schoolfriend Marr and singer Morrissey formed the group in Manchester in 1982. The Smiths released the last of their four classic studio albums, Strangeways Here We Come, in 1987 amid band conflicts, including royalty disputes, that soon brought about their demise and protracted litigation.
Rourke played with Morrissey in the singer’s early solo career, and went on to guest with the likes of Sinéad O’Connor and the Pretenders, as well as in the supergroup Freebass with two fellow Manchester bassists, Mani from the Stone Roses, and New Order’s Peter Hook.
Sources: Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME
Tina Turner (Born Anna Mae Bullock ), the raspy-voiced soul singer known as one of rock and soul’s most inspirational performers and dubbed 'The Queen of Rock,', died on May 24, at the age of 83 in her home near Zurich, after a long illness.
Rolling Stone's obituary noted that "Starting with her performances with her ex-husband Ike, Turner injected an uninhibited, volcanic stage presence into pop. Even with choreographed backup singers — both with Ike and during her own career — Turner never seemed reigned in. Her influence on rock, R&B and soul singing and performance was also immeasurable. Her delivery influenced everyone from Mick Jagger to Mary J. Blige, and her high-energy stage presence (topped with an array of gravity-defying wigs) was passed down to Janet Jackson and Beyoncé. Turner’s message — one that resounded with generations of women — was that she could hold her own onstage against any man."
Turner suffered years of abuse at the hands of Ike Turner, a pivotal figure in rock and roll's history, but emerged triumphant with a hugely popular solo career, starting with her popular, Grammy-winning 1984 makeover Private Dancer, one that made her a symbol of survival and renewal.
Born Anna Mae Bullock, Turner grew up in rural Nutbush, Tennessee. She first saw Ike Turner perform as the bandleader of Kings of Rhythm in St. Louis, and became a guest vocalist with the group.
In 1960, Ike and Tina Turner released their debut single, “A Fool in Love, and it reached the Top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, followed by the Grammy-nominated hit It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” which led to their first Grammy nomination for Best Rock and Roll Performance. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue maintained a rigorous touring schedule as part of the chitlin circuit in the early Sixties. The two married in 1962 in Tijuana.
In 1966, Phil Spector produced what he considered his masterpiece, River Deep — Mountain High, and it opened up doors for Ike and Tina, such as an opening slot on the Rolling Stones' US tour in 1969. A cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. In 1975, Tina appeared as the Acid Queen in Ken Russell’s grandiose film version of the Who’s Tommy.
The couple would divorce in 1976. Tina Turner's early bid for solo success faltered, but her cpmeback started in 1982, when Heaven 17, the British synth-pop band, recruited her for a remake of the Temptations' Ball of Confusion. The song led to a new record deal for Turner with Capitol, and her manager, Australian Roger Davies, supervised the recording of her Capitol debut, Private Dancer.
The track What’s Love Got to Do With It spent three weeks at No. 1 in the US, became an MTV staple and scored four Grammys (including two for Turner, for Pop Vocal Performance, Female and Rock Vocal Performance, Female). Canada was one of the first international markets to make that album a hit, and Turner returned the favour by performing at the 1985 Juno Awards with Bryan Adams on a sizzling duet, It's Only Love. The pair had recorded that cut for Adams' Reckless album from 1984, and it earned a Grammy nomination and spawned an MTV hit video.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Adams recalled that “Tina was a real powerhouse. She took me on tour with her in Europe in 1985, and it changed everything for me over there. I’ll never forget her.”
Ms. Turner and Mr. Adams had recorded the rock duet, It’s Only Love, for his Reckless album from 1984. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award. An accompanying video, filmed during Ms. Turner’s Private Dancer Tour with Mr. Adams as the opening act, earned heavy rotation on the American music video network, MTV.
In 1985, Turner starred alongside Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (which included another hit, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”), joined the all-star We Are the World” session, and played Live Aid alongside Mick Jagger. In 1986, her first memoir, I, Tina, cowritten with Kurt Loder, was published and became a best-seller. That biography was turned into a 1993 movie, What’s Love Got to Do with It, starring Angela Bassett in the title role. I Don’t Wanna Fight, featured on its soundtrack, became Turner’s last top 10 hit. She went on to win additional Grammys, including for her participation in Herbie Hancock’s 2007 Joni Mitchell tribute album, River: The Joni Letters, on which Turner sang Mitchell’s Edith and the Kingpin.
In 1999, Turner released her final album, Twenty Four Seven. Rolling Stone writes that "The album didn’t achieve the commercial success of the records that preceded it, but the accolades and recognition continued. In 2005, Turner, along with Tony Bennett, Robert Redford and others, was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor by then-president George W. Bush. Between 2008 and 2009, she embarked on a 50th anniversary tour."
Tina, a musical based on her life, premiered in London in 2018 and on Broadway the following year. Adrienne Warren, in the title role, won a Tony in 2020 for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.
Turner suffered a stroke three weeks after her wedding to German music executive Erwin Bach in 2013, then developed intestinal cancer. In light of possible kidney failure, Bach donated a kidney to his wife in 2017.
Read more on Tina Turner in Rolling Stone, Ultimate Classic Rock, New York Times, Variety, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail