Ed Ames (born Edmond Dantes Urick), the youngest member of the popular 1950s singing group the Ames Brothers, who later became a successful actor in television and musical theatre, died on May 21, from Alzheimer's disease, at age 95. He was the last survivor of the four singing brothers.
On television, Ames was likely best known for his role as Mingo, the Oxford-educated Native American in the 1960s adventure series Daniel Boone which starred Fess Parker as the famous frontiersman.
Ames had guest roles in TV series such as Murder, She Wrote and In the Heat of the Night and toured frequently in musicals, performing such popular songs as Try to Remember and the song that became his biggest hit single, My Cup Runneth Over.
As part of the 1950s music scene, he and his brothers were one of the numerous male pop quartets that included the Four Aces, Four Lads, Gaylords, Hilltoppers, Lancers, Four Knights, Ink Spots and, still around from a previous era, the Mills Brothers. But the Ames Brothers — Ed, Joe, Gene and Vic — had a unique tone: they were basses and baritones, not tenors.
Their recordings of Rag Mop, Sentimental Me, and Undecided became big hits, and they launched a busy career appearing on TV variety shows, recording 40 albums and playing in nightclubs and auditoriums across the country. The group, which was earning $20,000 a week, played its last engagement at the Sahara in Las Vegas on New Year's 1961.
Bill Lee, a jazz musician and composer and father of film director Spike Lee, died on May 24, at age 94.
The elder Lee scored four of his son's early films, She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing and Mo’ Better Blues. Bill Lee also appeared in Do the Right Thing.
He was also a well-regarded jazz musician and a session bassist who played on albums by Odetta, Woody Guthrie, Simon and Garfunkel, Harry Belafonte, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, John Lee Hooker and Peter, Paul and Mary, among many others. He can be heard on Bob Dylan’s All Over Now, Baby Blue and Lightfoot’s Oh, Linda. He played on Aretha Franklin’s Columbia album debut in 1960, Aretha.
Sources: Billboard, NY Times
Sheldon Reynolds, a guitarist for Earth, Wind and Fire and the Commodores, died on May 23, at age 63. His former bandmate, Phillip Bailey, confirmed his death on social media.
According to the Earth, Wind and Fire website, he was battling Parkinson’s disease, which also claimed the life of founding band member Maurice White.
After a stint with the Commodores, which started in 1983, Reynolds joined Earth, Wind and Fire in 1987. In 1994, Reynolds received a Grammy for the song Sunday Morning, which he co-wrote with his Earth, Wind and Fire bandmates.
Sources: Philadelphia Tribune
Algy (Alasdair Mackie ) Ward, an English punk rock and heavy metal bass guitarist and singer, died on May 17 at the age of 63.
He began his career in 1977 as a bassist for the Australian band The Saints. Afterwards, he joined the Damned before founding Tank in 1980. That group was part of the new wave of the British heavy metal movement.
Ward's first appearance with The Saints was in 1977 on their third single, This Perfect Day. He also played on their second album Eternally Yours, and third, Prehistoric Sounds, both released in 1978. Ward was replaced by bassist Janine Hall, and he joined the English punk rock band The Damned, playing bass guitar on the band’s comeback album Machine Gun Etiquette (1979).
He played with the band on tours worldwide, including America in 1979, before he was fired from the group due to the strong animosity between him and drummer Rat Scabies.
In 1980 Tank was officially formed. In 1982, they released their debut album, Filth Hounds of Hades, and recorded four more albums before splitting in 1989. In 1997, Tank reformed with Ward on vocals and bass, and the group recorded and released one more album as the original Tank, Still At War, in 2002.
However, the reunion was short-lived, as legal disputes and recording issues for their supposed seventh studio album Sturmpanzer caused the band to split up once again in 2006.
In response to a new Tank lineup, Ward created another Tank, in which he was the sole musician, and he released other albums under that name.