Remembering the Musical Legends and Stars Who Died in 2015
The following is a list of some of the notable musicians who passed away in 2015, including a few who performed in the Santa Barbara area in recent years. Some are well-known, many are not, but all are worthy of our respect.
R.I.P. — Rock In Peace.
by Jeff Moehlis
This article originally appeared here on noozhawk.com.
“The King of the Blues,” B.B. King was one of the best-known and best-loved blues musicians in history. He started his recording career in 1949, and over the years his repertoire grew to include classics like “The Thrill is Gone,” “Everyday I Have the Blues” and “Rock Me Baby.”
Every note counted when he played his Gibson guitar named Lucille, with a signature style of bent strings and wide vibrato. Click here for a 2012 review of his concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez.
King died May 14, 2015, at age 89.
Weiland died Dec. 3, 2015, at age 48.
One of the singers for Three Dog Night, Cory Wells sang lead on “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” and “Eli’s Coming.” A few months before his death, fellow Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton said, “Cory’s such a gifted guy, that blues voice of his, the timbre in his voice and the riffs and stuff. There’s only one guy like that.”
Click here for a review of the Three Dog Night concert at the Chumash Casino in August.
Wells died Oct. 20, 2015, at age 74.
Allen Toussaint has left an incredible mark on music over the years. As a songwriter, he penned classics like “Working in the Coalmine,” “Southern Nights” and “Fortune Teller.” As a producer, he brought his magic touch to noted recordings by the likes of Dr. John (“Right Place, Wrong Time,” “Such a Night”), The Meters (“Cissy Strut,” the Fire on the Bayou album), and Labelle (“Lady Marmalade”). He also recorded several acclaimed solo albums, did horn arrangements for The Band and Paul Simon, and worked with Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Lee Dorsey and many, many more.
Toussaint died Nov. 10, 2015, at age 77.
Lemmy Kilmister was the hard-living, larger-than-life founder/bassist/singer/songwriter for Motörhead who helped to pioneer speed metal and thrash metal with albums such as Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades and No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith. Before Motörhead, Kilmister was the bassist for psychedelic warlords / space ritualists Hawkwind, which kicked him out for, as he put it, “doing the wrong drugs.”
Kilmister died Dec. 28, 2015, at age 70.
The daughter of Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole had hits including “This Will Be,” “Our Love,” a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac,” and “Unforgettable” as a technology-enabled duet with her father. She performed at the newly reopened Granada Theatre in 2008.
Cole died Dec. 31, 2015, at age 65.
Ben E. King
Ben E. King’s song “Stand By Me” (co-written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) was a U.S. Top 10 hit in 1961 and 1986. Before going solo, he sang with The Drifters, whose hits included “There Goes My Baby,” “This Magic Moment” and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”
King died April 30, 2015, at age 76.
Known for his emotional singing, Percy Sledge’s first single, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” was his biggest hit, a timeless classic which has spoken to romantics for nearly 50 years.
Sledge died April 14, 2015, at age 73.
An innovator, a restless soul, a conduit of creativity, Ornette Coleman was one of the pioneers of free jazz, a movement originating in the 1950s and ’60s, which downplayed such niceties as fixed-chord changes or tempos. His 1959 album, The Shape of Jazz to Come, and 1960 album, Free Jazz — the latter of which gave the name to the subgenre — are regularly hailed as among the most important in the history of jazz.
Coleman died June 11, 2015, at age 85.
Edgar Froese founded the Krautrock band Tangerine Dream in 1967, which hit its electro-ambient stride with the classic 1970s albums Phaedra, Rubycon and Stratosfear. Later, the band recorded soundtracks for movies that included Risky Business.
Froese died Jan. 20, 2015, at age 70.
Allen died March 13, 2015, at age 77.
Chris Squire was the bassist and only member who played on all of the studio albums for the progressive rock band Yes, whose songs include “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Your Move,” “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”
Squire died June 27, 2015, at age 67.
Kim Fowley was an eccentric rock ’n’ roll producer, singer and manager, with credits including co-producing “Alley Oop,” writing songs for KISS, Alice Cooper and Kris Kristofferson, recording The Modern Lovers and managing The Runaways.
In a 2013 interview with Noozhawk, when asked “If you had to describe Kim Fowley in three words, what would they be?” Runaways singer Cherie Currie said, “Man-i-ac. No need for the other two words. He was and is a genius. I’m so glad we had a chance to talk a few years ago. It’s not good to hang onto resentment.”
Fowley died Jan. 15, 2015, at age 75.
James Horner, the prolific Academy Award-winning movie composer wrote the music to “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic, and “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail. He died in a plane crash in Los Padres National Forest near Cuyama.
Horner died June 22, 2015, at age 61.
• • •
Other notable 2015 musician and music-related deaths:
» Lesley Gore — Sang “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me”
» Michael Masser — Co-wrote a number of songs, including Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All,” “Saving All My Love for You,” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” and Diana Ross’ “Touch Me in the Morning” and “Do You Know Where You’re Going To (Theme From Mahogany)”
» Don Covay — Singer and songwriter, wrote “Chain of Fools” and “Pony Time”
» Wayne Carson — Co-wrote “Always On My Mind,” wrote “The Letter”
» Brian Carman — Guitarist and co-writer of The Chantays’ surf rock classic “Pipeline”
» Marlene Barrow-Tate — As a member of The Andantes, sang background vocals on many Motown songs, including “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There”
» Dallas Taylor — Drummer for Crosby, Stills & Nash
» Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor — Drummer for Motörhead
» Jean Ritchie — Singer/songwriter and Appalachian dulcimer player, known as “The Mother of Folk”
» John Tout — Keyboard player for Renaissance
» Steve Strange — vocalist for Visage
» A.J. Pero — Drummer for Twisted Sister
» Cilla Black — Sang “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “You’re My World”
» Carey Lander — Played keyboards for Camera Obscura
» Ian Allen — Member of Negativland
» Don Joyce — Member of Negativland
» Johnny Kemp — Sang hit song “Just Got Paid”
» Wally Lester — Founding member of The Skyliners, who had hit song “Since I Don’t Have You”
» Raul Rekow — Played percussion with Carlos Santana from 1976-2013
» James Last — German composer and big band leader
» Jim Ed Brown — Grand Ole Opry star
» Randy Howard — Country singer
» Andraé Crouch — Gospel performer, songwriter, and choir director
» Lenny McDaniel — New Orleans session musician
» Rose Marie McCoy — Wrote songs recorded by Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole
» Lynn Anderson — Country star sang “Rose Garden”
» Phil Woods — Jazz saxophone player
» Clark Terry — Jazz trumpet player
» Buddy Emmons — Pedal steel guitarist
» Arthur G. Wright — R&B session guitarist and vocalist
» Bill Keith — Bluegrass banjo player
» Orrin Keepnews — Jazz producer and record executive
» John Berg — Album cover designer