We lost some talented people in 2012. This is part two of my list, and I promised to limit it to 10. Sorry Donna Summer. I still think I Feel Love is one of the greatest songs ever. And Hal David, those songs you wrote with Burt Bacharach are classics. Earl Scruggs, you were a great banjo player, and I don’t say that to many people. The great American composer Elliot Carter died. Von Freeman was one of the all time great jazz sax players in this town. And Dave Brubeck, don’t take it personally that you didn’t make the list. It’s a tough call, but let’s continue the tribute.
Ravi Shankar was not only a major influence and friend to George Harrison, he was also the most amazing sitar player ever, helped bridge the east and west with his influence on The Beatles and collaborations with Classical musicians, and he was a spiritual leader to many. He’s the one that asked George to help feed the starving in Bangla Desh. That led to a concert that was the blueprint for Live Aid and every other great benefit rock concert that followed. And Norah Jones lost her Daddy.
Donald “Duck” Dun was one of my all time fave bass players. Member of Booker T & The M.G.’s, he laid down some great playing on a gazillion soul recordings from Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee. They were one of the few racially integrated bands in the sixties. I once read about how stunned Duck was at the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and how his relationship with many of his African-American friends changed overnight. Having lived through that horrible time, I always wanted to talk to him about it. Got the chance a couple of years ago backstage at the Harris Theater when I MC’ed the show that featured Mavis Staples and Booker T & The MG’s. That’s a night I’ll never forget. And we won’t forget Duck.
I know the Monkees were considered the “pre-fab 4”, but I always dug them. Good fun. No one saw this coming. Davy Jones died of a heart attack. The other shock was the other three Monkees, including Mike Nesmith, went on tour and did a tribute to Davy. You don’t know what you got until you lose it…to quote John Lennon. Never met him but heard nothing but good stuff about that gentleman.
Fontella Bass died and took her amazing voice to heaven with her. She not only had a big hit with one of the most refreshing R&B singles of the mid-sixties, Rescue Me, but also recorded with her avant garde jazz husband Lester Bowie’s band The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, and was a righteous gospel singer. What a talented woman. And who played that bass line? Brilliant!
And right here in Chicago, just days before Christmas, we lost one of the greatest gospel voices, Miss Inez Andrews. She was 83. When I did all nights at a station in Rochester, New York, I would be on until 6 AM, followed by an hour of gospel music. This was a chance for me to learn a lot about a genre of music that was always near and dear to my heart. The gospel DJ had a habit of oversleeping, but I didn’t mind because I often did the first 20 minutes of his show. He let me listen to his library of gospel albums, and one of the first I got into was Inez Andrews. The records were filed alphabetically so she was in the “A” section. What an amazing voice. The only time I heard her sing live was at Koko Taylor’s funeral. Lord have mercy. She left us with a lyric that speaks directly to those of us who have lost a loved one or hero in 2012. “Lord don’t move the mountain. Give me the strength to climb.”