Watts was born in Yardley, Birmingham, on 13 May 1949, he moved as a child to Worthing, Sussex, and then to Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, where he started learning guitar while at Ross Grammar School. His real middle name, Overend – which initially he did not use – came from that of a family ancestor.
By 1965, Watts had switched to bass guitar, and became a professional musician alongside Mick Ralphs in a group, the Buddies, that played in German clubs. The group later became the Doc Thomas Group, and then Shakedown Sound, before finally changing their name to Silence and settling in London in 1969. The group then added singer Ian Hunter, became Mott the Hoople, and, taking the advice of manager Guy Stevens, Pete Watts adopted the stage name Overend Watts. Following the departure of Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs from the band, in 1974, the remaining members of Mott the Hoople recruited relative unknowns Ray Major, on guitar, and Nigel Benjamin, on vocals. The name was abbreviated to Mott and a further two albums were recorded with this line-up, before Benjamin quit.
Watts continued with Dale “Buffin” Griffin, Morgan Fisher and Ray Major in the Mott successor British Lions, recruiting former Medicine Head member John Fiddler, until their demise around 1979. He later became a record producer, producing albums for artists including Hanoi Rocks and Dumb Blondes.
Watts’s bass of choice was a white Gibson Thunderbird, one of which was later sold to Wishbone Ash bassist Martin Turner.
In January 2009 it was confirmed that Watts and the other original members of Mott the Hoople would reform for three 40th anniversary reunion concerts in October 2009. The reunion at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London, England was extended to five shows due to popular demand.
In August 2009 American rock music group Mambo Sons released their double album Heavy Days featuring a song in tribute to him entitled “Overend Watts”.
In November 2013 Mott The Hoople again reunited, with Martin Chambers once again sitting in (for an ailing Buffin) on drums, for a series of UK gigs in Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester, before concluding at the o2 in London.
Watts died on 22 January 2017 from throat cancer at the age of 69
Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016), known professionally as George Michael, was an English singer, songwriter, and record producer, who rose to fame as a member (with Andrew Ridgeley) of the music duo Wham!. He was best known in the 1980s and 1990s with his style of post-disco dance-pop and has also been characterized as a blue-eyed soul singer, although his material drew more from middle of the road pop than soul music.Michael sold more than 100 million records worldwide. His 1987 debut solo album, Faith, sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Michael garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All Time Artists list.
Michael won numerous music awards throughout his 30-year career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.
In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004. The documentary A Different Story, released in 2005, covered his career and personal life. In 2006, Michael announced his first tour in 15 years, the worldwide 25 Live tour, spanning three individual tours over the course of three years (2006, 2007 and 2008).
Rick Parfitt from Status QuoRichard John “Rick” Parfitt, OBE (12 October 1948 – 24 December 2016) was an English musician, best known for being a singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist in the rock band Status Quo.
In 1967, Traffic Jam changed their name to The Status Quo (they soon dropped the definite article and later still would often be known simply as ‘Quo’), beginning Parfitt’s almost 50-year career in the band. Early successes came with the Rossi-penned hit “Pictures of Matchstick Men”. The single became the group’s only Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100.Though the follow-up was the unsuccessful single, “Black Veils of Melancholy”, they had a hit again the same year with a Marty Wilde song, “Ice in the Sun”, which climbed to number eight. The band’s 1972 album Piledriver, which reached number 5 and spent a total of 37 weeks on the UK Albums Chart.
The band’s more popular songs during the early 70s include “Paper Plane” (no 42 in the German music chart) (1972), “Caroline” (no 36 in the German music chart) (1973), “Down Down” (no 14 in the Austrian music chart) (1975), “Rain” (no 27 in the German music chart) (1976), “Rockin’ All Over the World” (No 29 in the New Zealand music chart) (1977) and “Whatever You Want” (no 24 in the Australian Music Chart) (1979). “Down Down” topped the UK Singles Chart in January 1975, becoming their only UK number one single to date.In 1976, they signed a pioneering sponsorship deal with Levi’s.
The 1976 hit “Mystery Song”, co-written with Bob Young, was composed after Rossi had laced Parfitt’s tea with amphetamine sulphate during the sessions for the Blue for You album. Rossi later said: “He was playing the riff when we left the studio, and he was still playing it when we came back the next day!”
Quo were highly successful in Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand throughout the 1980s and 90s, and were the opening act for 1985’s Live Aid, and they continue to be successful in the present day. By February 2015 they had sold over 118 million records worldwide. In 2013 and 2014, Parfitt and Rossi reunited temporarily with original Quo bandmates Lancaster and Coghlan for a series of reunion concerts on what would be called the “Frantic Four” tour.
At the time of his death, Parfitt and Rossi were the only remaining original members of the group, having remained in the band for its entire duration. He wrote some of their greatest hits, sometimes in collaboration with the group’s keyboard player Andy Bown, among them “Whatever You Want”, “Again and Again”, and “Rain”.
In 1984, the year before Quo would open Live Aid, Parfitt and Rossi appeared on the Band Aid charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. Bob Geldof asked Rossi and Parfitt to take part, knowing that although the group were from an entirely different musical era and background, their consistent chart success and fame would bring a certain amount of credibility to the project from the rock fraternity and ensure that the group’s loyal following of fans (the “Quo Army”) would buy the record in large numbers.
Parfitt recorded a solo album Recorded Delivery in 1985, but it was never released. Among the musicians on the record were bassist John “Rhino” Edwards and drummer Jeff Rich, formerly with the Climax Blues Band and Judie Tzuke.
In 2006 Parfitt released his invention, the “guitar facelift”, which has the backing of guitar manufacturer Fender.
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer singer, bassist and guitarist Greg Lake died on Dec. 7 after what is described as “a long and stubborn battle with cancer.”Gregory Stuart “Greg” Lake (10 November 1947 – 7 December 2016) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer who gained prominence as a founding member of the progressive rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP).Born and raised in Dorset, Lake began to play the guitar at the age of 12 and wrote his first song, “Lucky Man”, at the same age. He became a full time musician at 17, playing in several rock bands until fellow Dorset guitarist Robert Fripp invited him to join King Crimson as their singer and bassist. They found commercial success with their influential debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969). Lake left the band in 1970 and achieved significant success in the 1970s and beyond as the singer, guitarist, bassist, and producer of ELP. As a member of ELP, Lake wrote and recorded several popular songs including “Lucky Man” and “From the Beginning”. Both songs entered the UK and US singles charts.
Lake launched a solo career, beginning with his 1975 single “I Believe in Father Christmas” which reached number two in the UK. He went on to release solo albums and singles thereafter, collaborating with several artists in the process. Lake performed with various groups in the 1980s, and occasional ELP reunions in the 1990s, and toured regularly as a solo artist into the 21st century. He died on 7 December 2016 in London after suffering from cancer, at the age of 69.
Dave Brubeck, Whose Distinctive Sound Gave Jazz New Pop, Dies at 91David Warren “Dave” Brubeck (December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012) was an American jazz pianist and composer, considered to be one of the foremost exponents of cool jazz. He wrote a number of jazz standards, including “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke”. Brubeck’s style ranged from refined to bombastic, reflecting his mother’s attempts at classical training and his improvisational skills. His music is known for employing unusual time signatures, and superimposing contrasting rhythms, meters, and tonalities.
His long-time musical partner, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, wrote the saxophone melody for the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s best remembered piece, “Take Five”,which is in 5/4 time and has endured as a jazz classic on one of the top-selling jazz albums, Time Out. Brubeck experimented with time signatures throughout his career, recording “Pick Up Sticks” in 6/4, “Unsquare Dance” in 7/4, “World’s Fair” in 13/4, and “Blue Rondo à la Turk” in 9/8. He was also a respected composer of orchestral and sacred music, and wrote soundtracks for television such as Mr. Broadway and the animated miniseries This Is America, Charlie Brown.
Leon Russell Dies at Age 74Leon Russell (born Claude Russell Bridges; April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016) was an American musician and songwriter who was involved with numerous bestselling pop music records over the course of his 60-year career. His genres included pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel and surf records, with six gold records to his credit.His collaborations rank as some of the most successful in music history and as a touring musician, he performed with hundreds of Hall of Fame artists.He recorded 33 albums and at least 430 songs.He wrote “Delta Lady”, recorded by Joe Cocker, and organized and performed with Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour in 1970.More than 100 artists have recorded his “A Song for You” (1970).
As a pianist, he played in his early years on albums by the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. On his first album, Leon Russell, in 1970, musicians included Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. One of his biggest early fans, Elton John, said Russell was a “mentor” and “inspiration”. They recorded The Union in 2010, which was later nominated for a Grammy.Russell produced and played in recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ike & Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, and others. He wrote and recorded the hits “Tight Rope” and “Lady Blue”. He performed at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 along with Dylan and Eric Clapton, and in 2011 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter. His work mostly explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.
Cohen pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s, and did not launch a music career until 1967, at the age of 33. His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), was followed by three more albums of folk music: Songs from a Room (1969), Songs of Love and Hate (1971) and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974). His 1977 record Death of a Ladies’ Man was co-written and produced by Phil Spector, which was a move away from Cohen’s previous minimalist sound. In 1979, Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs, which blended his acoustic style with jazz and Oriental and Mediterranean influences. “Hallelujah” was first released on Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984. I’m Your Man in 1988 marked Cohen’s turn to synthesized productions and remains his most popular album. In 1992, Cohen released its follow-up, The Future, which had dark lyrics and references to political and social unrest.
Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of Ten New Songs, which was a major hit in Canada and Europe. His eleventh album, Dear Heather, followed in 2004. After a successful string of tours between 2008 and 2010, Cohen released three albums in the final four years of his life: Old Ideas (2012), Popular Problems (2014) and You Want It Darker (2016), the last of which was released three weeks before his death
Stanley Dural, Jr., who, using his stage name of “Buckwheat Zydeco,” was a global ambassador for the Louisiana music genre of zydeco, died this morning (Sept. 24). He was 68.
Stanley Joseph Dural, Jr. (November 14, 1947 – September 24, 2016), better known by his stage name Buckwheat Zydeco, was an American accordionist and zydeco musician. He was one of the few zydeco artists to achieve mainstream success. His music group was formally billed as Buckwheat Zydeco and Ils Sont Partis Band,but they often performed as merely Buckwheat Zydeco.
The New York Times said: “Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural leads one of the best bands in America. A down-home and high-powered celebration, meaty and muscular with a fine-tuned sense of dynamics…propulsive rhythms, incendiary performances.”USA Today called him “a zydeco trailblazer.”Buckwheat Zydeco performed with a large number of famous musicians from Eric Clapton (with whom he also recorded) and U2 to the Boston Pops. The band performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics to a worldwide audience of three billion people. Buckwheat performed for President Clinton twice, celebrating both of his inaugurations. The band appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, CNN, The Today Show, MTV, NBC News, CBS Morning News, and National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition.
Former Wings Guitarist Henry McCullough Dies at 72june 14, 2016Henry McCullough, who played guitar on some of Wings’ earliest records, has died.Henry Campbell Liken McCullough (21 July 1943 – 14 June 2016)was a Northern Irish guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was best known for his work as a member of Spooky Tooth, Paul McCartney & Wings, The Grease Band and Sweeney’s Men. He also performed and recorded as a solo artist and session musician.
Five Man Electrical Band Bassist Brian Rading Dead at 69,Brian Rading was the bass player in the band, led by Les Emmerson, and sang backup vocals, meaning millions have heard his amplified artistry, and always will.Just weeks shy of his 70th birthday, Rading died June 8 in a rambling old house in central Hull,Since news broke, friends and musical mates have come forward to talk about his incredible output in Ottawa’s music scene for the past 50 years.“He loved being on stage, more than anything,” said his daughter Jennifer, 41. “That’s where his heart was. That was his soul.”Being the only child of a ’70s rock Dad had its moments, like her graduation in Girl Guides, when Rading showed up in his concert get-up: leopard-print pants, makeup and earrings. “I mean, Dad, really?” she said Thursday, her horror now softened. “I have so many stories like that. You can’t embarrass me anymore.”