Category Archives: Obituaries

Zydeco Master Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural Dies at 68

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural passed away on September 24 at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was 68 years old. Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural was the leader of one of the greatest Zydeco bands, Buckwheat Zydeco.

Buckwheat Zydeco’s powerful live shows were legendary for the fun and abandon they inspired. It was the first Zydeco band to land a major record label deal, the first to perform on a national television show, the first to have its music featured in major motion pictures, TV shows and national TV commercials, the first to record with top rock musicians and the first to introduce Zydeco to the music mainstream.

Buckwheat Zydeco embodied a genre and represented a community with his signature playing style that brought distinctly creole zydeco music to fans across the globe. Buckwheat played both for and with legends, performing at both Clinton inaugurations, touring with Eric Clapton, and collaborating with a seemingly endless list of artists over his 40-plus year career. He won an Emmy for his work in TV and a GRAMMY in the genre he helped define. The world lost a music heavyweight today. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy.

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. was born in 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana, a close-knit community where many black people express their Creole heritage by speaking French, and by playing and dancing to Zydeco. This hybrid genre blends Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and blues, with soul, rock, country and the French-rooted Cajun music of the Creoles’ white neighbors.

As the son of a Zydeco accordionist, Buckwheat grew up steeped in this culture, and also absorbed Lafayette’s ample outpouring of blues and Gulf Coast “swamp pop.” He began his professional career as an R&B sideman, playing keyboards for artists such as Joe Tex, Barbara Lynn and Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
In 1971, Dural began leading his own R&B and funk band, Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers, playing the contemporary sounds of popular bands like Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind &Fire. The group achieved a regional hit with “It’s Hard to Get.”

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural

By the mid-1970s, South Louisiana began to experience a grass-roots cultural renaissance as Zydeco and Cajun music, once scorned as overly ethnic, gained appreciation as treasured cultural resources. As the demand grew for Zydeco bands, Dural was offered a gig playing organ for the “King of Zydeco,” the late Clifton Chenier. Buck (as he was also known) worked hard and learned all that he could. After three years of touring, recording and accordion apprenticeship, he left in 1979 to lead his own group, Buckwheat Zydeco and the ils Sont Partis Band. Like Chenier, Buckwheat continued to blend traditional Creole Zydeco with the latest black-contemporary styles, drawing on all of his rich and varied musical experience.

Recording prolifically for various independent labels, Dural attracted the attention of music journalist Ted Fox, who became his manager and co-producer. In 1987, Fox arranged Buckwheat’s signing with Island Records, and he became the first Zydeco artist to appear on a major label. This resulted in the band’s fourth Grammy nomination.

During the years of critical acclaim that has ensued, Buckwheat Zydeco toured constantly, headlining at major venues as well as sharing stages with the likes of U2 and Eric Clapton, and even The Boston Pops. Clapton also recorded as a special guest with Buckwheat Zydeco – as did Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Dwight Yoakam and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos – on some of his numerous projects that followed.

The band performed at both of President Clinton’s inaugurals, and Buck was featured on the Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta before a worldwide television audience of three billion.

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural

Another first project for Buckwheat Zydeco was the release of the band’s lively children’s album, Choo Choo Boogaloo, on the Music For Little People label which won numerous awards and rave reviews. It features zydeco originals as well as classics such as “Iko, Iko,””Cotton Fields,””Little Red Caboose,” and “Skip To My Lou.” In the spirit of creating a genuine family feeling people of all ages contributed to the music, including a talented young people’s gospel choir from Baton Rouge.

Buckwheat Zydeco celebrated its 20th anniversary by releasing a retrospective album. The Buckwheat Zydeco Story – A 20-Year Party, a compilation of the band’s best recordings, was released on Buckwheat’s own Tomorrow Recordings label on July 6, 1999. It features 74 minutes of music on one disc as well as comprehensive liner notes in a 16-page booklet in a slipcased package.

The album’s cover features an unforgettable image of Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. in front of the tiny boyhood home he shared with eleven brothers and sisters in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is both a tribute to his roots and a statement of how far he and the Creole music he loves have come. The album’s colorful original art was created by award-winning Jackson, MS artist H.C. Porter whose work is exhibited in shows and museums around the United States.

The studio recording, Trouble, was released on Tomorrow Recordings on January 12, 1999. Buck felt strongly that this was his best album in a dozen years. Perhaps more aptly titled than Buck even knew, Trouble was originally released in May of 1997 by Mesa/Atlantic just as Mesa was undergoing a shake-up. Unsatisfied with the results of the original release – and unwilling to give up on what they felt was one of the band’s key albums – Dural and Ted Fox, convinced Atlantic to revert the album to them.

On Trouble, Buckwheat decided to concentrate on the skilled players within his band, and revisit the live-on-the-bandstand feel of the Zydeco and R&B dance halls where he first learned his craft.

Discography:

One For The Road (Blues Unlimited Records, 1979)
Take It Easy, Baby (Blues Unlimited Records, 1980)
Peoples Choice (Blues Unlimited Records, 1982)
100% Fortified Zydeco (Black Top Records, 1983)
Turning Point (Rounder Records, 1983)
Ils Sont Partis (Blues Unlimited Records, 1984)
Waitin’ For My Ya Ya (Rounder Records, 1985)
On a Night Like This (Island Records, 1987)
Taking It Home (Island Records, 1988)
Where Theres Smoke Theres Fire (MCA Records|MCA Special Products, 1990)
Buckwheats Zydeco Party (Rounder Records, 1992)
On Track (Atlantic Records, 1992)
Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection (Mango Records, 1993)
Choo Choo Boogaloo (Music For Little People, 1994)
Five Card Stud (Island Records, 1994)
The Best Of Louisiana Zydeco (Avi Entertainment, 1996)
Trouble (Tomorrow Recordings, 1997)
Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20 Year Party (Tomorrow Recordings, 1999)
The Ultimate Collection (Hip-O Records, 2000)
Down Home Live (Tomorrow Recordings, 2001)
Classics (Rounder Records, 2003)
Jackpot! (Tomorrow Recordings, 2005)
The Best of Buckwheat Zydeco: Millennium Collection (Island Records, 2006)
Lay Your Burden Down (Alligator Records, 2009)
Let The Good Times Roll: Essential Recordings (Rounder Records, 2009)

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Acclaimed Irish Folk Musician Padraig Duggan Dies at 67

Pádraig Duggan (left) with Clannad.
Pádraig Duggan (left) with Clannad

Pádraig Duggan, Irish musician, songwriter, and co-founder of much-admired contemporary folk music band Clannad, died in Dublin on August 9, 2016 at the age of 67. He passed away in Blanchardstown Hospital from a recurrent illness.

Pádraig Ó Dúgáin (Duggan) was born on January 23, 1949 in Gweedore, County Donegal in the Northwest of Ireland. Pádraig and his twin brother, Noel played music from early childhood. Padraig player guitar and mandolin.

After playing in dancehall bands in their youth, Pádraig and Noel, joined their niece and nephews, Moya, Ciaran, and Pol Brennan, to form Clannad in the early 1970s. Clannad became one of the most famous contemporary Irish folk music bands of all time, combining Celtic folk music, ethereal vocals and pop.

In the 1990s, Pádraig and Noel toured widely with Pan-European Celtic band Norland Wind.

Pádraig and Noel released a recording of traditional songs and ballads in the Irish language together with self-penned songs in English titled Rubicon in 2005. The album included Moya Brennan, Finbar Furey, Orla Fallon (Celtic Woman), and Norland Wind’s Thomas Loefke and Kerstin Blodig.

“Padraig Duggan was a truly gifted musician, with extraordinary skills on both the guitar and mandolin. As a founding member of the Irish folk group Clannad, Padraig beautifully blended the traditional sounds of Ireland’s musical past with contemporary pop music, helping to push the Celtic sound into the mainstream. Not just bandmates, Clannad were also family members, and their deep Gaelic roots and ethereal stylings shined on more than 15 full-length albums, including the much-celebrated Landmarks, for which they won the GRAMMY for Best New Age Album for 1998. We have lost a cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to Padraig’s family, friends, and collaborators,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy.

Pádraig Duggan is survived by his wife Jan.

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Acclaimed Flamenco Singer José Menese Dies at 74

José Menese, one of Spain’s finest flamenco singers passed away Friday, July 29, 2016 at his home in La Puebla de Cazalla (Sevilla).

José Menese Scott was born in La Puebla de Cazalla (Sevilla), but it was in Madrid where he started his professional career as a  flamenco artist. After going through some difficulties, he debuted at Tablao Zambra, the most prestigious flamenco nightclub in Madrid. There, he performed every night for more than three years, and had the opportunity to meet artists such as Perico el del Lunar, Rafael Romero, Pericón de Cádiz, Juan Varea, Rosa Durán, among others, all of them great professionals.

José Menese’s first record was released in 1963, in collaboration with the incomparable guitarist Melchor de Marchena.

Two years later, in 1965, he reached fame after competing at the famous Flamenco Art National Contest, in Cordoba. He was awarded the Honor Prize “Tomás El Nitri”.

He performed throughout the world. In November 1974 he gave a concert at the Olympia Theater in Paris, where he recorded an album for RCA.

He also performed at Madrid’s Royal Theater (Teatro Real)  with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Radio Televisión Española conducted by maestro Odón Alonso.

 

José Menese
José Menese

José Menese was considered one of the most important singers in recent decades. In addition to the above mentioned prize, he also received the following accolades: Placa de Plata de Mairena del Alcor (1967), Cátedra de Flamencología de Jerez de la Frontera, two times (1965 and 1974), Taranto de Oro, in Almería (1971), Saeta de Oro in Sevilla (1969), Premio Ondas de la Cadena Ser, Popular del Diario Pueblo in Madrid (1968), Famoso de Sevilla y Sevillano del Año (1973), among others.

His most recent recordings were A Francisco (2000), La pureza del cante (2002), and A mis soledades voy, de mis soledades vengo (2005).

Headline photo credit: José Menese – Photo by Luis Castilla, Bienal de Flamenco

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Flamenco Visionary, El Lebrijano, Dies at 75

One of Spain’s legendary flamenco singers and trendsetters, El Lebrijano passed away in Sevilla on July 13, 2016.

Juan Peña Fernández, “El Lebrijano” was born in Lebrija (Sevilla) in 1941, within a well-known family of Gypsy flamenco performers such as Perrata y Perrate, Fernanda y Bernarda de Utrera, Bambino, Turronero, Gaspar de Utrera, Miguel Funi, Diego del Gastor, Pedro Peña, Pedro Bacán and Dorantes, among others.

El Lebrijano started his career at 17, playing guitar in a show by La Paquera de Jerez. However, his guitar career didn’t last very long. When a singer fell ill, El Lebrijano replaced him and became a cantaor (flamenco singer).

He was hired by the tablao (flamenco nightclub) “La Venta de Antequera” and later moved to Madrid to work at the iconic “El Duende” and “Los Canasteros” clubs.

Antonio Gades heard El Lebrijano and recruited him for his flamenco company that toured throughout the world. El Lebrijano later toured with Manuela Vargas. After that, he initiated his solo career.

His first recording was “Juan Peña El Lebrijano” (Columbia, 1963) that was followed by singles. El Lebrijano’s first LP was “De Sevilla a Cadiz” (Columbia, 1969). His popularity grew and with the support of his manager Juan Antonio Pulpón, he toured throughout Spain.

El Lebrijano was an innovator. In 1972 he released “La palabra de Dios a un gitano” ” (The word of God to a Gypsy) on the Philips label. He pioneered the use of symphonic and choral voices in flamenco.

Next came “Persecución” (Philips, 1976), which translates as pursuit. Here, he exposed the discrimination suffered by gypsies in Spain during different time periods.

In 1979, he brought flamenco to one of the most prestigious venues in Europe, the Teatro Real de Madrid (the Royal Theater). The concert was released with the title “Flamenco en el Teatro Real” (Philips, 1979).

In 1982, he released “Ven y Sígueme” (Come and Follow Me) on RCA, using the figure of Christ and the Gospels to demand social justice. The album included two essential Spanish artists, Rocio Jurado and Manolo Sanlúcar.

El Lebrijano - Encuentros
El Lebrijano – Encuentros

 

El Lebrijano’s next project was a collaboration with an orchestra of North African musicians who kept alive the ancient Arab-Andalusian music. The result was “Encuentros” (Encounters), released in 1985 on Ariola. This proved to be a controversial move, criticized by purists who didn’t like these cross-cultural collaborations. El Lebrijano was not intimidated by these reactions and, in the following years, he released two additional collaborations with Arab musicians, “Casablanca” (EMI, 1998) and “Puertas abiertas” (Senator, 2005).

 

 

In “Tierra” (1989), El Lebrijano told the travel stories of the intrepid Spanish adventurers and explorers who traveled to the Americas.
Another significant album in El Lebrijano’s career was “Lágrimas de Cera” (Tears of Wax) on EMI, released in 1999. This was a tribute to the Andalusian Holy Week. El Lebrijano surprised everyone once more by adding a Bulgarian choir.

 

 

El Lebrijano won many awards and distinctions, including the Medal of Andalusia (1986), awarded by the Andalusian government; and the Labor Medal (1999), granted by the government of Spain. In April 2010 he received an award in the category of music at the III Premios de la Cultura Gitana (3rd Gypsy Culture Awards).

 

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Native American Musician and Colville Tribal Chairman, Jim Boyd Dies at 60

Jim Boyd
Jim Boyd

American Indian musician, songwriter, producer and Colville Tribal Chairman in Washington State, Jim Boyd passed away on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016. He was a member of the Arrow Lakes tribe, which is one of the twelve tribes of the Colville Confederacy.

As one of the most active Native American recording artists, Jim Boyd’s music career spanned over four decades. He worked on projects for Miramax, Warner Brothers, Mega International Records, Dixie Frog Records, Sound of America Records, as well as audio-visual projects for businesses and colleges.

Jim Boyd released 15 records; Reservation Bound, Unity, Reservation Blues, First Come Last Served, AlterNatives, Jim Boyd w/ Alfonso Kolb Live At The Met, Kyo-t Live, Going To The Stick Games, Them Old Guitars, Live At Two Rivers, Blues To Bluegrass, Voices From The Lakes, Harley High, Living For The Sunny Days, and most recently Bridge Creek Road. Jim also managed his own career and operated his label, Thunderwolf Records.

At the Second Annual Native American Music Awards, Boyd received the award for Best Compilation Recording for the Smoke Signals soundtrack. At the Fifth Annual Awards, he won Record of the Year for his recording, AlterNatives. The next year he took Best Pop/Rock Recording for Live at the Met.

At the Seventh Annual Awards he received Record of the Year for Going to the Stick Games. He received Songwriter of the Year at the Eighth Annual Native American Music Awards for Them Old Guitars. He won Best Short Form Music Video for Inchelium at the Ninth Annual Awards; and he received the prestigious Artist of the Year Award at the Tenth Annual Native American Music Awards.

 

 

On November 14, 2014, Jim Boyd was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions in the field of Native American music at the 15th Annual commemoration held at the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca, New York.

 

Jim Boyd
Jim Boyd

 

In addition to his wife Shelly, Jim Boyd is survived by his wife Shelly, his mother, Violet Boyd; brothers Lanny and Michael; sisters Pam, Luana and LaDonna; sons Joel, Dakota, Brian and Michael Carson, and daughter Stevey Seymour; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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Bluegrass Maestro Ralph Stanley Dies at 89

Ralph Stanley - National Heritage Fellow Portrait by Tom Pich
Ralph Stanley – National Heritage Fellow Portrait by Tom Pich

 

Acclaimed bluegrass banjo player and vocalist Ralph Stanley, “Dr. Ralph,” passed away at his home in the mountains of southwestern Virginia.

Ralph Edmund Stanley was born February 25, 1927 in Big Spraddle, Virginia. He learned ballads and how to play banjo from his mother. Her repertory included traditional narrative songs and 19th-century hymns sung a cappella.

After graduating high school and serving in the United States Army, he joined older brother Carter to form the Clinch Mountain Boys. They started performing on local radio stations and at regional venues.

After Columbia Records signed them, they become known as The Stanley Brothers and went on to record such classics as “Angel Band,” “Little Maggie” and their highly popular song, “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Ralph Stanley developed a unique style of playing the banjo that became known as “Stanley style.” The Stanley Brothers became one of the most popular brother acts in country music history.

 

 

In 1976, Stanley received an honorary doctorate from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee and became known as “Dr. Ralph Stanley.”

In 1984, Ralph Stanley was the recipient of the “National Heritage Award.” In 1992 Ralph Stanley was inducted into the” International Bluegrass Music Hall Of Honor”. In 2000 he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

Ralph Stanley was introduced to a new generation of fans thanks to his stirring a cappella hymn “O Death” from the hit Coen Brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” movie soundtrack. The album was a bestselling hit. In 2002 Ralph Stanley received his first ever Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance of the haunting rendition of “Oh Death.”

The following year Ralph Stanley and Jim Lauderdale won a Grammy for best bluegrass album for “Lost in the Lonesome Pines.”

In 2006 He received the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress and National medal of arts given by President George W. Bush.

 

Ralph Stanley
Ralph Stanley

 

Ralph Stanley’s continuation of a cappella singing led to its revival in contemporary bluegrass bands. Some of country and bluegrass music’s biggest stars came from Ralph Stanley’s band, including Ricky Skaggs, Larry Sparks and the late Keith Whitley.

 

Ralph Stanley: A Mother’s Prayer Video Preview

Ralph Stanley is survived by his wife Jimmie Stanley; his children Lisa Stanley Marshall, Tonya Armes Stanley and Ralph Stanley II; his grandchildren Nathan Stanley, Amber Meade Stanley, Evan Stout, Ashley Marshall, Alexis Marshall, Taylor Stanley, and Ralph Stanley III; and great grandchild Mckenzie Stanley.

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Celebrated Qawwali Singer Amjad Sabri Assassinated in Pakistan

Cover of Amjad Sabri's solo album titled Ecstasy of the Soul
Cover of Amjad Sabri’s solo album titled Ecstasy of the Soul

News reports from Pakistan indicate that renowned Qawwali musician Amjad Sabri, one of Pakistan’s most well-known Sufi musicians, was shot and killed on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 in the southern city of Karachi.

Amjad Farid Sabri was born on December 23, 1976 and was a member of one of the most famous Qawwali music ensembles in Pakistan, the Sabri Brothers.

The Sabri Brothers is Pakistan’s best known, extraordinarily successful family of devotional Sufi singers, from Kalyana in the East Punjab and with over 30 years of sung religious poetry behind them.

In 2012, Amjad Sabri released a solo album titled Ecstasy of the Soul.

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Celebrated Salsa Composer and Pianist José Lugo Dies of Cancer

José Lugo
José Lugo

Acclaimed Puerto Rican composer, arranger and pianist José Lugo passed away June 12.

In a joint press release Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy and Gabriel Abaroa, President/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy said: “We are saddened to learn of the death of two-time GRAMMY and two-time Latin GRAMMY winner José Lugo. A talented pianist, arranger, and conductor, he was recognized for his innovative work in the salsa, merengue, and tropical music genres.

As the director of Guasábara Combo, he worked side by side with other greats such as Gilberto Santa Rosa, Isaac Delgado, and Bobby Valentín.

We join the Puerto Rican music community in mourning the loss of this brilliant artist and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

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Tejano Music Singer Emilio Navaira III Dies at 53

Tejano and country music singer-songwriter and musician Emilio Navaira III passed away May 16, 2016 in New Braunfels, Texas. Emilio was also one of the few Tejano artists to have considerable success in both the United States and Mexico.

Emilio Navaira III was born August 23, 1962 in San Antonio, Texas to Mexican-American parents.

Possessing one of the greatest voices in the history of Tejano music, Emilio Navaira was an icon in the genre. Both a GRAMMY and a Latin GRAMMY Award winner, he showcased his strong Texas roots in everything he did,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “From his relentless touring schedule to his impressive lyrics and signature sound, Emilio was beloved by many, and helped to shape an entire genre of music. Our creative community has lost a uniquely gifted talent, and our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and all those who had the privilege and honor of working with him. He will be missed.”

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Country and folk musician and songwriter Guy Clark Dies at 74

American country and folk music singer-songwriter and musician Guy Clark passed away May 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Guy Clark was born November 6, 1941 in Monahans, Texas. He moved to Nashville in 1971 and was one of the creators of progressive country and outlaw country.

Guy Clark was truly gifted, both as a songwriter and folk musician. Having penned classics like “Desperados Waiting For A Train” and “L.A. Freeway,” Guy became one of the most admired figures in Nashville, and served as a songwriting mentor to many other talented musicians,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “Guy’s songs were recorded by artists such as Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, and Ricky Skaggs, with many reaching the upper echelon of the country songs chart. And his much-acclaimed album, My Favorite Picture Of You, earned him a GRAMMY Award for Best Folk Album for 2013. We have lost a cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to Guy’s family, friends, and collaborators.”

In 2004, Guy Clark was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and in 2013, he received the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Award, along with Hank Williams.

Clark was a mentor to artists such as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell and his songs have been covered by a multitude of artists, including Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley, David Allen Coe, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffet, Asleep At The Wheel and many others.

Photo credit: Guy Clark photo by Nashvilleportraits.com

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