John ‘Jaco’ Pastorius
John ‘Jaco’ Pastorius was a brilliant bass player best known for his work with the jazz-fusion group “Weather Report”. His downfall was the demon alcohol, which had an “Edgar Allen Poe” like effect on him. When “Jaco” was on the juice he became uncontrollably violent, verbally abusive and exhibited erratic behavior. On September 21st of 1987 he was beaten to death by a bouncer while being thrown out of a Ft. Lauderdale nightclub. He was 35 years old.
Gram Parsons was a pioneer of country rock. His group the “Flying Burritto Brothers” were one of the first to feature a steel guitar as part of a rock-n-roll band. The Eagles and Poco were modeled after his type of music. At one time Gram was a member of the Byrds. He went solo and recorded two albums before he died in a motel room on September 19th, 1973 at the age of 26. The coroner found traces of a variety of drugs in his body. Somewhere enroute to LA, his coffin was stolen and set ablaze under a tree.
Felix Pappalardi was a producer as well as an accomplished bass player. He produced Cream’s “Disraeli Gears” and “Wheels of Fire” and provided various instrumentation to their recordings. After the break-up of Cream he went on to produce “The Vagrants” which included guitarist “Leslie West”. Impressed by West’s guitar work he convinced West to form a band with him called “Mountain”. Mountain’s fourth gig was at Woodstock were they played to a receptive crowd. In 1970 their debut album “Mountain Climbing” was released and yeilded the rock classic “Mississippi Queen”. By 1972 Pappalardi’s hearing had become impaired and he left the band. “Mountain” disbanded but would resurface in various incarnations over the years. Later on Felix joined a japanese group called “Creation”. In 1982 Felix became involved in a 10 month extra marital affair with a 27 year old named “Valerie Merians”. On April 17th , 1983 while returning home late one evening his long time wife and collaborator “Gail Collins” shot him in the neck during a jealous rage with a 38 caliber derringer Pappalardi had bought her for protection. While he lay dying on the bedroom floor she called her lawyer and then the police. It wasn’t until the police arrived when medical attention was summoned. By that time Felix was dead. Gail Collins was convicted of “criminally negligent homicide” and was sentenced to four years in prison. When she got out she disappered from view and is presumed dead. Felix Pappalardi was 43 years old at the time of his death.
John Panozzo was the drummer and original founding member of the group “Styx”, who enjoyed brief superstardom in the late seventies with songs like “Grand Illusion, “Lady”,”Come Sail Away”, “Renegade” and a slew of others. He developed an alcohol problem which kept him from touring with the band during the nineties. His condition gradually worsened and he passed away July 16th,1996 at the age of 47.
Robert Alan Palmer was born January 19th, 1949 in Batley England. His spent most of his childhood on the island of Malta but as a teenager found himself back in England. He soon went through a series of groups the most well-known being “Vinegar Joe”. He went solo and was signed by Island records and recorded his first solo album “Sneaking Sally Through The Alley “ released in 1974. In 1975 he released “Pressure Drop”. In 1976 Palmer had a number 16 hit with “Every Kinda People” which gained him some notice. In 1979 “Secrets” was released which contained another hit “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor Doctor)”. In 1985 he joined the short-lived “Power Station” which performed at the first live aid concert. The pinnacle of his success though came with 1986’s number one smash hit “Addicted To Love”. The accompanying video is an M-TV classic featuring long legged hot chicks dressed in short black dresses with deep red lipstick holding guitars ( I always wanted to bang the one playing bass) In 1989 Palmer had a number 2 hit with “Simply Irresistible”. While vacationing in Paris on September 26th, 2003 Robert Palmer died of a massive heart attack at the age of 54
Benjamin Orr (born Benjamin Orzechowski) was bass player for the highly successful “New Wave” group “The Cars”. The band finally gelled in Boston and along with Ric Ocasek “The Cars” ran up string up a slew of hits from 1978-1985. The band was known for their punk-new wave get ups and made good fodder for M-TV videos. Their debut album for electra records spawned three fm hits : Just What I needed, Your All I Got Tonight and My Best Friend Girls Friend. They followed this up with “Candy-o” and limped along thru the 80’s with mediocare albums but still yeilded FM hits. Their swan song was the album “Heartbeat City” with yielded the popular MTV video “You Might Think”. Orr also sang lead to a couple of cars tunes, most notably “Drive” which became one of 1984’s “Heartbeat City”‘s biggest hits. After the break up of the cars Orr gigged around with a few bands and was still active in the music business until cancer was discovered in his Pancreas which proved inoperable. He played right up to the moment he checked out on October 3rd, 2000 at the age of 53
Roy Orbison was known for his high-falsetto voice, dressing in black and his trademark sunglasses. In the late fifties and early sixties he scored a handful of hits : “Obby-Dooby”, “Crying”, “Only the Lonely”, “Dream Baby”, and “Candyman” to name a few. His musical peak came in 1964 when he hit #1 with “Pretty Woman”. His life was marred with a series of tragedies, most notably the death of his son. In the mid-eighties he was coaxed out of retirement by George Harrison who put together “The Traveling Wilberries” with Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. “Handle with Care” revitalized his career. He had just completed a TV special and plans were in the works for a tour when he died of a heart attack. It may be worth noting that Orbison, poised for the biggest resurgence of his career, fell victim to horrible tragedy throughout his life. His boys died in a housefire while he was on the road, several other terrible things happened, and just when a long spell of mediocre career years were over, he dies of a massive heart attack while visiting his mother. After all the shit he’d been thru, his mother watched her son die! (special thanks to Dave McNaire) Roy Orbison died on December 7th of 1988 at the age of 52
Frank O’Keefe was one of the original members of the Tampa-based group “The Outlaws”. Frank was a talented bassist as well as a guitar player and songwriter. The group formed in 1967 and by the end of 1968 recorded two unreleased albums. The master tapes were deliberately destroyed and what was pressed were either dumped or pawned-off. Afterwards a series of personnel changes ensued. The line-up that was to become known as “The Three Guitar Army” was solidified in 1972 with the addition of Billy Jones and Henry Paul. The “Outlaws” big break came in 1974 when they were spotted in a club by Clive Davis (formerly of columbia records) who signed them to his newly formed label “Arista Records”. Their debut album was released in 1975 and “There Goes Another Love Song” and “Green Grass and High Tides” became staples of FM radio airplay. The album went to number one in California. In 1976 they released “Lady in Waiting”. This was to be the last album with Frank O’Keefe. In July of 1976 Frank fell into an empty swimming pool and broke his neck. Although not paralyzed his injury left him debilitated to the point where he could no longer play the bass guitar without risking permanent paralyisis leaving him to rely on prescription pain killers. In order to make ends meet Frank worked as a painting contractor and dabbled in photography. as well as staying active in music and songwriting. On the morning of February 26th, 1995 Frank was found by his roommate dead on the floor. His death was attributed to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Frank O’Keefe was 44 years old.
Phil Ochs was a folk music pioneer and along with Bob Dylan wrote some compelling anti-war songs which helped fuel the whole antiwar , anti-establishment movement of the sixties. Legend has it that once Phil showed up at Bob Dylan’s doorstep, broke, desolate and hungry for food. Bob turned him away , still mad at him for some remarks Phil made concerning some of Dylan’s tunes. On April 7th, 1976 he committed suicide by hanging himself. He was 35 years old.
Berry Oakley was the bass player for the Allman Brothers. In a freakish occurrence Berry Oakley was killed in the exact manner as Duane , only a year later. He was killed while riding a motorcycle , in the same intersection , on November 10th, 1972 . This left Gregg an emotional wreck and eventually a burnt-out shell. This was evident during his liaison with Cher where she would find him passed-out in a bowl of spaghetti. Berry Oakley was 24 years old