Graham Bond was an early purveyor of the swinging London scene in the mid sixties. He followed the typical blueprint of the English bands of that time: skiffle to blues to rock. Schooled in jazz he played the saxophone and keyboards. He soon formed “The Graham Bond Organisation” which included Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Although popular in England Graham never hit it big. After Bruce and Baker left to form Cream in 1966 Graham’s popularity increasingly declined. His financial management was so bad every band he formed lost money. On May 8th of 1974 at the age of 36 he commited suicide by diving off a station platform into the path of an oncoming train.
Tommy Bolin died in a Miami hotel room December 4th, 1976 at the age of 25 while on tour. Tommy Bolin was a multi dimensional guitarist adept in jazz, fusion and rock. Bolin fronted the group “Zephyr” whose records could be found in the cut-out bins. He joined “The James Gang” after Dominic Trojano left to join the Guess Who. In 1975 he joined “Deep Purple” after the departure of Richie Blackmore. He went solo and was steadily gaining in popularity with his second release “Private Eyes”. He eventually developed a substance abuse problem which began to concern those close to him. He had just finished the first night of the tour opening for Jeff Beck in Miami and was hosting a small party in his hotel room. He consumed the usual booze coke and big H. Somwhere during the evening he entered the bathroom and someone injected him with heroin. Much of this is speculation but this seems to be the most pausable according to most accounts. When he passed out while talking on the phone his entourage called the hotel doctor who advised to take him to the hospital. Fearing bad press Tommy’s people figured he’d sleep it off since thev’e seen him like this before. Bad call, he suffocated to death in his sleep. The Miami Herald reported he was found dead in the shower stall. This does not seem to be the case. Although he may have been placed in the shower in an attempt to revive him he was found in his bed. The Herald also falsely reported that this was his first fling with the big H but those close to him say he was snorting it for sometime. As for his frequency for injecting it remains unclear. 4 fresh puncture marks where found in his arm. A tragic end to a talented guitarist whose future was cut short. But we’ve heard all this before, haven’t we?
Mark Bolan was the frontman of the popular group T.REX who enjoyed their biggest success in the early seventies. In the late sixties the group was known as Tyrannosaurus Rex. In England the group commanded a fanatical following reminisent of Beatlemania but in the states they were relatively unknown. In 1971 Bolan shortened the name to T.REX, overhauled the group’s sound and released “Electric Warrior”. “Bang-a-gong(Get it on)” with it’s reference to “cars and hubcap diamond-starred halos” was a top ten smash. In 1972 “The Slider” was released and T.REX became the darlings of glitter rock. In 1973 they released “Tank” and fell off the charts into rock-n-roll obscurity. Regarding his rock and roll lifestyle he once said “I was living in a twilight world of booze, drugs and kinky sex”. Bolan’s comeback attempt was cut short when on September 16th of 1977 he was killed in an auto accident. Apparently he had been arguing with his girlfriend who decided to get the last word in by crashing into a tree, gone at the age of 30.
Mike Bloomfield was another white boy with the blues who played lead guitar for “The Paul Butterfield Blues Band” . Mike Bloomfield was considered the top guitarist in the industry until Eric Clapton came along . Bloomfield stayed with Butterfield for only two albums, afterwards he formed the short-lived “Electric Flag” with Al Kooper and Buddy Miles. Bloomfield is also best known for his lead guitar work on Bob Dylan’s classic album “Highway 61 Revisited”. He also did an album with Al Kooper and Steven Stills entitled “Super Sessions”. Along with Butterfield he gradually faded from view . He died February 15th, 1981 at the age of 37 from a medical condition contributed to drug abuse.
What began as a skit on Saturday night live turned into one of the most popular movies of all time , million selling albums and provided a Halloween costume for years to come. In 1978 John Belushi had the blues, he formed a super tight band with original members of the MG’s (the Stax recording studio house band) Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn. The songs the “Blues Brothers” recorded breathed new life into the blues, with choreographed stage routines, a crack horn section and Belushi’s energetic vocals. Talks were in the works about a sequel when he was found dead on March 5th, 1982 in a Hollywood Bungalow at the age of 33. He had a myriad of track-marks on his arms and was speed-balling (a mixture of cocaine and heroin). Kathy “Silverbag” Smith who allegedly administered the final lethal dose while Belushi was already unconscious was tried and convicted on a reduced manslaughter charge and served 6 months of an 18 month sentence.
Hoyt Axton was “folkie” guitar singer-songwriter best known for his ballads. Some of his best known works include “The Pusher”,”The No No Song”,”Joy To The World”, “Never Been To Spain” and “Snowblind Friend”. He dabbled in acting having starred in “Gremlins” and other films as well as television. His mother “Mae” Axton achieved fame as the writer of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”. He was left severely disabled due to a stroke and eventually packed it in on October 10th, 1999 at the age of 61.
Duane Allman is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, right along side the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. As a matter of fact, Duane was invited to play on Clapton’s immortal classic “Layla” by “Derek and the Dominoes”. Known as a master of the slide guitar, Duane and his brother Greg virtually defined southern rock. Duane was also a session guitarist at “Muscle Shoals” recording studios and did session work with artists such as Clarence Carter, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs,and Wilson Pickett. Duane and Greg were raised by their mother in Daytona Beach, Florida and by 16 years old Duane was an accomplished guitarist. With brother Greg on keyboards and vocals they formed a series of short-lived bands thru out the sixties. In 1967 as “The Hourglass” they were signed by Liberty records and recorded two unmemorable albums which died a quick death. This was all to change however when Dickey Betts entered the picture. After a series of extensive jams “The Allman Brothers Band” was born. In 1969 they released “The Allman Brothers Band” and in 1970 “Idlewild South”. Although popular in the South and garnering more and more FM airplay neither album established the band as a national act. This was all to change with the release of “Live at the Fillmore East” in 1971. A double album set featuring extended versions of “Whipping Post”, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and a blistering version of “Statesboro Blues” featuring Duane’s stinging slide guitar riffs finds the “Allman Brothers” at their finest. A must for any serious guitar player “Live at the Fillmore East” remains a classic. However, The Allman Brothers good fortune was about to take a turn for the worse. On October 29th of 1971 after laying down some tracks for a new album, Duane took off on his motorcycle.A truck hauling Peaches pulled out in front of him and he crashed into it. Duane died after hours of emergency surgery at the age of 24. The Allman Brothers would never be the same without him. The album “Eat a Peach” was released shortly after his death. A tragic end to one of rock’s greatest gutarists. DEATHROCK UPDATE: Contrary to popular belief, the truck that pulled in front of Duane was actually hauling steel cable and rods. The working title of the album was actually “The Kind They Grow Down South”. Butch Trucks suggested an alternative title from something that Duane had stated “I play a lick now and then, and whenever I’m in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace.” The title was changed to “Eat a Peach for Peace”, then shortened. (special thanks to Brian Love for clearing that up that rock myth)
Luther Allison was a bluesman known for his energetic guitar playing and soulful singing. He was the first blues act signed to Motown Records. He jammed on Chicago’s West Side with blues legends Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Freddie King. After the 70’s he moved to Paris,France where he became a European blues superstar. In 1994 he mounted a US comeback, recording several albums for Alligator Records and touring extensively. He won many awards including “Blues Entertainer of The Year”. In July of 1997 he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and brain tumors. He died on August 12th, 1997 at the age of 57.
Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen was the conga player for the group “War”. In 1970 “War” chalked-up a top ten single with the hit “Spill The Wine” featuring Eric Burdon from the “Animals” on lead vocals. After releasing the double album set “The Black Man’s Burden”, Eric left the band. The band went on to release a string of hit singles that appealed to both rock and r & b FM radio formats. Some of their popular songs include “Slippin’ Into Darkness”,”The Cicso Kid”,”Low Rider”,”Me and Baby Brother”,”Why Can’t We Be Friends”,”All Day Music”,”Summer” and “The World Is A Ghetto”. In concert they would stretch songs out into extended jams. On August 30th of 1988 “Papa Dee” suffered a massive heart attack while performing on stage which proved fatal.
Johnny Ace was a singer during the fifties who was done in by his own hand. Christmas eve of 1954 he was scheduled to perform at the City Auditorium in Houston Texas. At some point backstage he was dared into a game of Russian Roulette. He picked up a revolver, loaded a bullet into the chamber, spun the cylinder, pulled the trigger and blew his brains out. He was 25 years old.