As we conclude our celebration of the 40 years of XRT today, it is only appropriate to note in passing and with a bit of the macabre, those whose life stories also ended that year. As always, it was a mixed (body) bag of celebrities and just plain Joes and Janes. The world of modern music was especially hard hit. Here’s a partial list:
1. Steve Clark was the flashy and talented lead guitar with Def Leppard. I was at KPAS in El Paso when the station sponsored an early American appearance from them in the late 70s. Clark died of an overdose while on hiatus from the band on January 8. He was 30.
2. Doc Pomus was a legendary songwriter who wrote the lyrics for numerous hits working out of the legendary Brill Building in New York collaborating with his partner Mort Shuman. “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” was a hit for Andy Williams, but the (English) Beat do it better.
3. Leo Fender was one of the pioneers of electric guitars and their amplification and was a modern day Stradivarius. (There’s more than one kind of long-hair music.) He gets a mention in this song. He died of Parkinson’s disease on August 10 at the age of 81.
4. Steve Marriot was one of the biggest voices in rock and powered the Small Faces and Humble Pie. He died in a house fire on April 20. He was 44.
5. Gene Clark was a key member of the Byrds who wrote and sang on some of their best tracks. He died of a heart attack (reportedly fueled by a big song royalty check) on May 24 at the age of 46.
6. The famed impresario, concert promoter and creator of the Fillmores East and West and Winterland. Died in a helicopter crash returning from a Huey Lewis show. He was 60 years old.
7. David Ruffin was one of the outstanding voices in the Temptations, one of the greatest vocal groups in history. He died of an adverse drug reaction on June 1st. He was 50.