Remembering Musicians Who Died in 2015

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.

B.B. King

“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.

Scott Weiland

The singer for Stone Temple Pilots (“Plush,” “Creep,” “Interstate Love Song”) and Velvet Revolver (“Slither,” “Fall to Pieces”), Scott Weiland finally lost his battle with addiction last year.

Click here for a review of the Stone Temple Pilots concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 2010.

Weiland died Dec. 3, 2015, at age 48.

Cory Wells

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

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.

Click here for a November 2014 interview with Toussaint before his concert at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

Toussaint died Nov. 10, 2015, at age 77.

Lemmy Kilmister

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​ also played in the cover band The Head Cat, including an opening slot for Jerry Lee Lewis’​ 75th birthday celebration. Click here for that review.

Kilmister died Dec. 28, 2015, at age 70.

Natalie Cole

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.

Percy Sledge

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.

Ornette Coleman

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.

Click here for a review of a Coleman concert at UC Santa Barbara’​s Campbell Hall in 2010.

Coleman died June 11, 2015, at age 85.

Edgar Froese

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.

Daevid Allen

Guitarist/singer Daevid Allen co-founded the progressive rock band Gong, best-known for the ultra-trippy Radio Gnome trilogy Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg and You.

Allen died March 13, 2015, at age 77.

Chris Squire

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

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

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”

» Jimmy Greenspoon — Played keyboards for Three Dog Night

» 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”

» Dieter Moebius — Key member of Krautrock bands Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia

» Jack Ely — Sang ​“Louie Louie” for The Kingsmen

» Andy Fraser — Bass player for Free, co-wrote “All Right Now”

» Errol Brown — Singer for Hot Chocolate (“You Sexy Thing”)

» Stevie Wright — Frontman for The Easybeats, the Australian band that recorded “Friday on My Mind”

» John Renbourn — Founder of Pentangle

» P.F. Sloan — Wrote “Eve of Destruction” and co-wrote “Secret Agent Man,” also a producer for The Turtles, Johnny Rivers, Herman’s Hermits, and Jan and Dean

» Ronnie Gilbert — Singer/songwriter/activist, member of The Weavers with Pete Seeger

» Wayne Carson — Co-wrote “Always On My Mind,” wrote “The Letter”

» Steve Mackay — Sax player for The Stooges, including on the proto-punk album Fun House

» John Bradbury — Drummer for ska band The Specials. Click here for a review of a 2013 concert in Ventura.

» Brian Carman — Guitarist and co-writer of The Chantays’ surf rock classic “Pipeline”

» “Lady Bo” Peggy Jones — Guitarist for Bo Diddley from 1957-1962

» Cynthia Robinson — Played trumpet for Sly and the Family Stone

» Robert Burns Jr. — Drummer and founding member for Lynyrd Skynyrd

» Gary Richrath — Guitarist for REO Speedwagon, wrote “Take It On The Run,” “​Ridin’ the Storm Out”

» Andy White — Played drums on The Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” and “P.S. I Love You”

» Bobby Emmons — Keyboardist who played on Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”

» 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”

» Tim Drummond — Bass player for Bob DylanNeil Young and Crosby, Stills & Nash

» Dallas Taylor — Drummer for Crosby, Stills & Nash

» Phil “​Philthy Animal” Taylor — Drummer for Motörhead

» Mike Porcaro — Bass player for Toto

» Michael Brown — Member of Left Banke, co-wrote “Walk Away Renee”

» Jean Ritchie — Singer/songwriter and Appalachian dulcimer player, known as “The Mother of Folk”

» Joe B. Mauldin — Double-bass player for Buddy Holly and The Crickets

» Sam Andrew — Guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company, with singer Janis Joplin

» John Tout — Keyboard player for Renaissance

» Billy Sherrill — Worked with Tammy Wynette and George Jones, co-wrote and produced “Stand By Your Man,” co-produced “He Stopped Loving Her Today”

» Dave Somerville — Singer for The Diamonds who had the hit song “Little Darlin’,” died in Santa Barbara

» Steve Strange — vocalist for Visage

» A.J. Pero — Drummer for Twisted Sister

» Lew Soloff — Played trumpet for Blood, Sweat & Tears, sessions with Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Lou Reed

» Cilla Black — Sang “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “You’re My World”

» Carey Lander — Played keyboards for Camera Obscura

» Ben Cauley — Trumpeter for The Bar-Kays, only survivor of plane crash that killed Otis Redding and four other members of The Bar-Kays

» Eddie Hoh — Drummer who played on recordings by The Monkees, Donovan, Mike Bloomfield/Al Kooper/Stephen Stills, The Flying Burrito Brothers

» Ray Warleigh — Saxophonist and flautist, played on recordings by Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Roy Harper

» Rod McKeun — Adapted songs by Jacques Brel, including “Seasons in the Sun”

» Bryn Merrick — Bassist for The Damned from 1983-1989

» Ian Allen — Member of Negativland

» Don Joyce — Member of Negativland

» Demis Roussos — Member of Greek band Aphrodite’s Child, including on their prog rock classic album 666

» Preston Ritter — Drummer for The Electric Prunes, including on the song “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)”

» Bruce Crump — Drummer for Molly Hatchet

» Dennis Greene — Founding member and singer for Sha Na Na

» William Guest — Background vocals for Gladys Knight & the Pips

» Louis Johnson — Session bassist, played bass line on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”

» 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”

» Sid Tepper — Wrote songs for Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and many others

» Carson Van Osten — Bassist for The Nazz, with Todd Rundgren

» Raul Rekow — Played percussion with Carlos Santana from 1976-2013

» James Last — German composer and big band leader

» Little Jimmy Dickens — Oldest cast member of Grand Ole Opry, performed since 1948

» 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

» Bruce Rowland — Drummer for Fairport Convention, Joe Cocker

» Rose Marie McCoy — Wrote songs recorded by Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole

» Lynn Anderson — Country star sang “Rose Garden”

» Wilton Felter — Played saxophone for Jazz Crusaders

» Phil Austin — Member of The Firesign Theatre

» Theodore Bikel — Singer, composer, co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival

» 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

» Perry “Buddy” Buie — Songwriter for Atlanta Rhythm Section

» Miriam Bienstock — Co-founder of Atlantic Records

» Bill Arhos — Started Austin City Limits TV program

» Harold Battiste — Producer of Dr. John’s album Gris-Gris, arranger for Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” and Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” “The Beat Goes On” and “Bang Bang”

» Bob Johnston — Producer for Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen

» Thom Wilson — Punk rock producer, including for Dead Kennedys, T.S.O.L., Bad Religion and The Offspring

» Samuel Charters — Producer for Country Joe & the Fish, including psych classic Electric Music for the Mind and Body

» Orrin Keepnews — Jazz producer and record executive

» John Berg — Album cover designer

» ​Cynthia Lennon — Connected to the music world as John Lennon’s first wife, and the mother of Julian Lennon


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