Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Rocking Dead

Each year, a few of the better-known musicals and singers who die get a day or two in the press, maybe a few rememberances if they were influential, their catalog featured on iTunes if they were popular.  Some just slip on by, unless you read the paper every day, which I don't.  And so, it was with some surprise that, while flipping through a local rag down here in Florida, I came across a presumably-full list of the musicians who died in 2014.

It hit me powerfully, and I've been thinking about it ever since, for it contained some I hadn't known died, some I hadn't thought about for years, some who are moving on without even my awareness of their contribution, and I am reasonably aware.

Surely the Seegers and the Cockers have gotten their due.  my thoughts today are with those I lost this year, those who with a note, a riff, a song helped to shape my own musical landscape:

Rest in peace, Dick Wagner, who along with fellow guitarist Steve Hunter played some of the most beautiful guitar interplay I've ever heard on "Intro/Sweet Jane," the opening cut on Lou Reed's Rock 'N Roll Animal.

Goodbye, Bobby Keys, whose sax improvisation in the second part of the Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" is crucial to one of rock's finest moments.

Adios, Rick Rosas, whose bass anchored most of Neil Young's non-Crazy Horse projects.

Farewell, Mr. Ackerman Bilk, a clarinetist whose early 60's records my father played at top volume on the large console in our living.  I'm convinced that commercial instrumental music like this opened up the potential for my jazz appreciation.

MaƱana, Paul Craft, a songwriter I never heard sing, but whose song, "Keep Me From Blowin' Away" was crucial to my love of both The Seldom Scene and Linda Rondstadt.

Ride on, Paul Revere, who helped to lead the American response to the British Invasion and, with the Raiders, was one of the early rock and rollers I watched on television in the afternoon.  A goofy guy.

Auf Wiedersehen, Maria Von Trapp, the last member of the original siblings of the "Sound Of Music" family.  I knew the songs from that movie well.

Taps for Joe Lala, a percussionist who no doubt had many gigs, but who I know best as part of all of the Joe Walsh solo albums I owned.

Rock on, Johnny Winter, frenetic blues guitarist and Edgar's brother, who didn't write "Rock and Roll Hootchie Coo," but if you've ever heard his live version on Edgar Winter's White Trash, you know he owned it.

Peace at last, Phil Everly and the iconic harmonies that go with you.  Apparently, the Everly Brothers ended up hating each other, but they helped Warren Zevon along and that matters.

Blow no more, Raphael Ravenscroft, whose name I never knew until today, but whose sax part on Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" is indelibly etched into millions and millions of personal, internal soundtracks.

Onward, Tommy Ramone, and with you The Ramones.  I'll never forget the first time I heard you; I just didn't get it.  Punk took me a long time to figure out, but you remind me that I often mock first what I end up loving.

Thump no more, Glenn Cornick, whose bass lines for Jethro Tull on tracks like "Bouree" come so easily to mind sitting here in a noisy Panera some 20 years since I last heard them.


Billy said...

Even those I do not know had talent I cannot fathom, and most followed their talents and passions with little hope of making a great living out of it, but rather because they were compelled to do so. Gotta respect that.

waitsfornoone2005 said...

Thanks for the memory trip. You even inspired me to go back and listen to the Intro to Sweet Jane.
Truly electrifying guitar duel.
Regards, Dave.