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Category: pop music

Lloyd Knibb, influential drummer with the Skatalites, dies at 80


Lloyd Knibb, an influential Jamaican drummer who played with the Skatalites and helped develop the ska beat, has died. He was 80.

Enid Knibb said her husband died of liver cancer Thursday. He had been receiving treatment in the U.S. but returned to Jamaica this week, she said.

Knibb was an original member of the Skatalites, a Jamaican ska and reggae band created in 1964. His frenetic style was one of the band's hallmarks and is best heard on songs including "Guns of Navarone" and "Freedom Sounds." The accompanying video is a live performance of "Guns of Navarone."

The Skatalites broke up in the 1960s, but reunited two decades later. Two of their albums, "Hip Bop Ska" and "Greetings from Skamania," were nominated for Grammy Awards in the 1990s.

Their music has influenced bands including the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt.

Knibb last performed with the Skatalites in April.

"Knibb was simply the most important and influential modern drummer this country produced," said Herbie Miller, director of the Jamaica Music Museum. "A master percussionist, he contributed to every style of popular and not so popular musical form.... As a drummer, he established a rhythmic syntax through bold innovative advances."

-- Associated Press


Hazel Dickens, folk and bluegrass musician, dies at 75

Hazel Dickens, a folk singer and bluegrass musician who advocated for coal miners, has died. She was 75.

Dickens died Friday morning at a hospice in Washington, D.C., of complications from pneumonia. Her death was confirmed by Ken Irwin, a founder of Rounder Records, her label for about 40 years.

Dickens became a fixture in the bluegrass circuit in the 1960s and '70s with her musical partner, Alice Gerrard. The duo performed as Hazel & Alice. They were among the first prominent female bluegrass performers.

Dickens' music was later featured in the Oscar-winning 1976 documentary, "Harlan County U.S.A.," about Kentucky coal miners, and John Sayles' 1987 drama, "Matewan." Irwin said Dickens will be remembered for giving voice to coal miners.

Among her honors was a 2008 induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

-- Associated Press

Blues pianist Pinetop Perkins dies at 97


Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, a blues pianist known for his aggressive style of playing and his gravelly voice, died Monday at his home in Austin, Texas, according to an announcement on his website. He was 97.

Perkins, seen in a YouTube clip above, woke up with chest pains and died of cardiac arrest, according to his manager, Hugh Southard.

Perkins accompanied Sonny Boy Williamson on the popular King Biscuit Time radio show broadcast on KFFA in Helena, Ark., in the 1940s. He toured with Ike Turner in the 1950s and joined Muddy Waters' band in 1969.

Perkins won a Grammy in February for best traditional blues album for "Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie "Big Eyes" Smith." That win made Perkins the oldest Grammy winner.

More later at

-- Associated Press



Country music singer Ferlin Husky dies at 85


Ferlin Husky, a country music hall of famer who had hits with "Wings of a Dove," "Gone" and, with Jean Shepard, "Dear John Letter" in the 1950s and '60s, died Thursday at his home in Nashville. He was 85.

The Missouri native moved to Bakersfield after serving in World War II. He signed with Capitol Records and helped pave the way for Merle Haggard and Buck Owens out of the Central Valley.

We'll have more later at




Ferlin Husky on the Hollywood Star Walk

-- Claire Noland


One year ago: Alex Chilton of the Box Tops and Big Star

It's been a year since Alex Chilton died suddenly in New Orleans at 59, only days before he was to play a reunion concert with his old band Big Star at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.

The show went on as planned with his surviving bandmates (see a snippet from YouTube above), and a panel discussion turned into a tribute to to the mercurial singer who was probably better known to the masses for his lead vocals on the Box Tops' 1967 hit "The Letter."

Times pop music critic Ann Powers covered last year's SXSW panel discussion featuring John Frye, the owner of Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tenn.; Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and original bassist Andy Hummel; and Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, musicians who helped flesh out the Big Star reunion band. In reflecting on the discussion, Powers wrote:

Chilton’s early success as the teenage singer for the Box Tops could have resulted in a career like that of Kinks leader Ray Davies, with ups and downs but more commercial success than Chilton enjoyed. Instead, Chilton responded to typical music-industry banality and narrow-mindedness by constantly testing himself and his audience, going further into tricky spaces.... Chilton remained uniquely baffling until the end. He apparently loved performing with his oldies act the Box Tops at events like the Italian Fair in Memphis; though he sometimes scoffed at the cult of Big Star, he enjoyed the reunion, and Auer and Stringfellow heard through the grapevine -- Chilton wasn’t much for direct compliments – how much he appreciated them. Auer smiled, remembering a time he’d asked Chilton to chose between several songs during a rehearsal."Amongst," Chilton replied. Auer wasn’t sure how to respond."It’s 'amongst,' when there is more than one choice," the stickler said. "Not 'between.'"Alex Chilton lived a life "amongst," and those gathered to honor his memory gave full voice to that variation.


Obituary: Alex Chilton dies at 59; mercurial leader of the Box Tops, Big Star

RIP Alex Chilton, American Music Man

Photos: Alex Chilton, 1950-2010

Alex Chilton and the Replacements

--Claire Noland


Stan Ross, a producer and engineer who co-founded Gold Star studios, famed for its 'Wall of Sound'

Davidsgoldandstanross(3) Stan Ross, who co-founded Hollywood’s Gold Star Recording Studio, where producer Phil Spector perfected the innovative “Wall of Sound” technique, has died. He was 82.

Ross died Friday at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank of complications following surgery, his family said.

More than 100 Top 40 hits were recorded at Gold Star, including such Spector-produced records as  “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers and “Be My Baby" by the Ronettes.

Other hits recorded at the modest building at Santa Monica Boulevard and Vine Street included Ritchie Valens' “La Bamba,” Eddie Cochran's “Summertime Blues” and Iron Butterfly’s “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida.” The Beach Boys also recorded most of their records there.

“Stan was born with a musical ear,” said David Gold, who co-founded Gold Star with Ross when both  were barely out of their teens. “He would come up with ideas for people who were recording, things that had never been tried before.”

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles.

A full obituary will follow at

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: The founders of Gold Star Recording Studios: David Gold, left, with Stan Ross, who died Friday.


Owsley 'Bear' Stanley, 1960s counterculture character, dies at 76

Owsley "Bear" Stanley, a 1960s counterculture icon who worked with the Grateful Dead and was a prolific LSD producer, died in a car crash in Australia, his family said Monday. He was 76.

Lyrics by the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa reference Stanley's name.

Stanley produced an estimated pound of pure LSD, or roughly 5 million "trips" of the hallucinogenic substance, after enrolling at UC Berkeley in 1963 and becoming involved in the drug scene that underpinned the San Francisco Bay Area's hippie movement, according to the website.

He was a sound engineer for the Grateful Dead, a pioneering psychedelic rock band.

Sam Cutler, a friend of Stanley since 1970 when Cutler became the band's tour manager, described him as "a wonderful man and a great teacher."

"His death is a grievous loss to his family and the tens of thousands of people from the '60s on who were influenced by his work with the Grateful Dead," Cutler said.

Stanley was driving a car that swerved off a highway and down an embankment before striking trees near the town of Mareeba in Queensland state Saturday. His wife was treated for minor injuries.

A family statement described Stanley as "our beloved patriarch."

-- Associated Press

Hugh Martin, who co-wrote 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,' dies at 96

The Associated Press is reporting the death of composer and songwriter Hugh Martin, who co-wrote "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Trolley Song," of natural causes Friday at his home in Encinitas, Calif., citing his niece, Suzanne Hanners. Martin was 96.

Both songs, written with his partner Ralph Blane, were featured in the 1944 film "Meet Me in St. Louis" starring Judy Garland (seen above in the YouTube clip).

Martin's memoir, "Hugh Martin: The Boy Next Door," was published in 2010.

More later at

-- Claire Noland




Jean Dinning, who wrote ‘Teen Angel,' dies at 86


Jean Dinning, who wrote the tragic tale "Teen Angel" that became a No. 1 hit in 1959, has died. She was 86.

Dinning died Feb. 22, said her daughter, Cynthia Wygal. Dinning had been staying at Wygal's Garden Grove home under hospice care for complications from a respiratory infection.

"Teen Angel" was the story of a girl who dies after going back to a car stalled on railroad tracks to get her boyfriend's high school ring. Dinning's brother, Mark, performed the song, which was No. 1 on Billboard magazine's charts in December 1959. Above is a video of Mark Dinning from 1960.

Eugenia Dinning was born March 29, 1924, in Enid, Okla. She performed as one of the Dinning Sisters, who were popular particularly during the 1940s. She moved to Orange County about 10 years ago as her health declined, Wygal said.

 -- Keith Thursby

Bernard St. Clair Lee, who sang 'Rock the Boat' with Hues Corporation, dies at 66


Bernard St. Clair Lee, 66, a baritone singer and original member of the Hues Corporation, which had an early disco hit in 1974 with "Rock the Boat," died Tuesday at his home in Lake Elsinore, said Ava Dupree, a family spokeswoman. The Riverside County coroner’s office confirmed that the death was from natural causes.

The Hues Corporation, a soul trio whose name was a pun on Los Angeles aviation giant Hughes Corp., was formed in 1969 by Lee, soprano Hubert Ann Kelly and tenor Fleming Williams.

"Rock the Boat," written by band manager Waldo Holmes and performed in the YouTube clip above, shot to No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts in 1974. The group followed with another top 20 hit that year in "Rockin’ Soul."


Kelly later left the group to become a minister, and Williams died. Lee had recently been performing with Elaine Woodard and Bruce Glover as a reformed Hues Corporation.

Lee was born in San Francisco in 1944 and attended Santa Monica College.

According to Dupree, he is survived by his wife, Arlene; his mother, Jackie Austin; a son, Mark; two stepsons, Andre Goosby and Jody Benney; and a sister, Michelle.

A memorial service will be held March 19 at 11 a.m. at Palisades Lutheran Church, 15905 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades. Kelly will give the eulogy.



-- Claire Noland


Remembering Mike Starr of Alice in Chains

The 1992 movie "Singles," directed by Cameron Crowe, featured an array of Seattle grunge bands, including a segment with Alice in Chains performing in a bar (seen above in this YouTube clip).

Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr, 44, was found dead in Salt Lake City, police said Tuesday. Starr, who had battled drug problems, had appeared on the reality show "Celebrity Rehab." He's not the first member of the band to die young. Singer Layne Staley died in 2002 at age 34.

We'll have more later at, but until then, let us know what your favorite Alice in Chains song is, in the comment section below.


Mike Starr, former Alice in Chains musician, dies at 44

Layne Staley, 34; lead singer of grunge group Alice in Chains

-- Claire Noland

Mike Starr, former Alice in Chains musician, dies at 44

Mike Starr, the former bassist for the rock band Alice in Chains whose battle with drugs was chronicled on the reality TV show “Celebrity Rehab,” was found dead Tuesday in Salt Lake City, officials said. He was 44.

Police said they responded to a call of a possible death at a residence. The cause of death was not immediately available.

Starr's former Alice in Chains band mates, Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney, released a statement offering their support for his family. The band's original singer, Layne Staley, died from a drug overdose in 2002.

Alice in Chains shot to fame in the early 1990s. Starr left the band soon after the release of its 1992 album, “Dirt.”

He appeared on the third season of the VH1 show “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.”

-- CNN


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