2008 Music Obituaries, November

Miriam Makeba
Miriam Makeba
World Music Central’s list of musicians, scholars and music industry professionals who left us in 2008.

Jimmy Carl Black, 70, musician and singer. Mr. Black was a drummer and vocalist best known for his membership in the group The Mothers of Invention with Frank Zappa. Mr. Black was also a member of the groups Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band and The Grandmothers. His discography includes Ella Guru The First Album, Strange News from Mars with Jon Larsen, Tommy Mars and Bruce Fowler and The Jimmy Carl Black Story with Jon Larsen.

Nathaniel Mayer, 64, singer. Mr. Mayer was a rhythm and blues singer on the 1960s Fortune Records music scene. He had singles hits “Village of Love,” “Leave Me Alone” and “I Had a Dream.” He left music but returned in 2004 with the recording I Just Want to Be Held and toured with The Black Keys. His last recording Why Don’t You Give It to Me? was released in 2007.

Rosetta Reitz, 84, music historian and record company founder. Ms. Reitz was the founder of Rosetta Records. Through Rosetta Records, Ms. Reitz released compilations featuring women blues singers like Georgia White, Bessie Brown, Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. She would later go to create “The Blues is a Woman” program under the Newport Jazz Festival.

Jack Reno, 72, singer. Mr. Reno was a country singer. Mr. Reno played with the likes of Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton, as well as performed at the Grand Ole Opry. His discography includes the recordings Meet Jack Reno, I Want One and Interstate 7. His singles include “Hitchin’ a Ride” and “Repeat After Me.”

Shakir Stewart, 34, record company executive. Mr. Stewart was a Senior Vice President of Island Def Jam Music Group and Executive Vice President of Def Jam Records. He is credited with signing Beyoncé to Hitco Music Publishing and Young Zeezy and Rick Ross for Def Jam.

Yma Sumac, 86, singer. Ms. Sumac was a noted Peruvian singer known for her extraordinary vocal range. She would record a number of Incan and South American folk songs with Les Baxter and Billy May. She would later go on to the Broadway stage with the musical Flahooley and appear in films. Her discography includes Voice of the Xtabay, Legend of the Sun Virgin and Fuego del Ande.

Edward Scott McMichael, 53, musician. Known as the Tuba Man, Mr. McMichael was a beloved public performer, often playing outside sports arenas including the Kingdome, Key Arena and Qwest Field. While playing, Mr. McMicheal cajoled listeners with funny hats and his renditions of rock and roll songs played on the tuba.

John Trudeau, 81, music promoter. Mr. Trudeau is perhaps best remembered for his work with Portland State University’s music school and as the founder of the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon. Originally a trombonist for the Oregon Symphony and Portland Symphonic Brass Ensemble, Mr. Trudeau went on to create the two-week arts extravaganza known as the Britt Festival. The festival would grow into summer-long event for theater and music.

Jheryl Busby, 59, record executive. Mr. Busby started out in music in the promotion and marketing offices of Stax Records. He would later work for MCA and become president of the black music division. In 1988 Mr. Busby became President and CEO of Motown Records, promoting the likes of Boyz II Men and Queen Latifah. He would go on to head a division of Dream Works Records and serve as president of Def Soul Classics.

Byron Lee, 73, musician and record producer. Mr. Lee was a musician and record producer best known for his group Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. He produced The Maytals’s ska group and created the Byron Lee’s Spectacular Show tour featuring Jamaican bands. Mr. Lee’s discography includes Come Fly With Lee, Rock Steady Beat, This Is Carnival, Soca Roya and Soca Carnival.

Orlando Owoh, 76, musician. A Highlife singer and musician, as well as band leader, Mr. Owoh was known to fans as Chief Dr. Orlando Owoh, leader of Dr. Orlando Owoh and His Omimah Band. He also was a leading member of the Young Kenneries and African Kenneries International. His discography includes Ranmi Lowo, Aiye Le, Ori Mi Ma Gbagbe Mi and Suru Logba.

Chris Thurston, 32, rapper. Known as the rapper Jax, Mr. Thurston was part of the Atlanta’s rap scene and the independent group Binkis Recs.

Jody Reynolds, 75, singer and musician. Mr. Reynolds was a Rockabilly singer and guitarist, best known for his hit single “Endless Sleep.” Mr. Reynolds formed the band the Storms with whom he recorded “Endless Sleep.” His other singles include “The Storm,” “Stone Cold” and “Don’t Jump.”

Miriam Makeba, 76, singer. A South African singer and civil rights activist, Ms. Makeba began her musical career with the Manhattan Brothers before forming her own group The Skylarks. Ms. Makeba was often referred to as Mama Afrika for her activism against apartheid. She found fame with tracks like “Pata Pata,” “The Click Song” and “Malaika.” She received a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording for her An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. Her recordings include Miriam Makeba, The Magic of Makeba, Sangom, Reflections, Welela and Makeba Forever.

Wannes Van de Velde, 71, singer. Mr. Van de Velde was a singer, musician, actor and poet. A popular Belgian songwriter and singer, Mr. Van de Velde often wrote songs in the Antwerp dialect. His discography includes Wannes Van de Velde, Laat de Mensen Dansen, Tussen de Lichten and In de Maat van de Seizoenen.

Mitch Mitchell, 61, musician. Mr. Mitchell was a drummer best known as a band member of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Mr. Mitchell’s musicianship was lauded by critics on the recordings of “Manic Depression,” “Fire” and “Voodoo Child.” Mr. Mitchell’s discography includes Are You Experienced?, The Cry of Love, War Heroes and Ramatam with the group Ramatam.

Margaret Moncrieff, 87, musician. Ms. Moncrieff was a cellist known for her chamber music work and her performances of the composers Hans Gal and Peter Wishart. In later years Ms. Moncrieff taught at the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and Wells Cathedral School before turning to writing.

Serge Nigg, 84, composer. Mr. Nigg was a classical composer known for being the first French composer to write in dodecaphonic form for his Variations for Piano and 10 Instruments. He later became a member of the French Ministry of Culture, a teacher at the Paris Conservatory and president of the Société Nationale de Musique. His works include Timour, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and Deux Images de Nuits for Piano.

Irving Gertz, 93, composer. Mr. Gertz was an American composer known for his work on 1950s and 60s fantasy and horror film scores. He composed for the horror movies The Leech Woman, Curse of the Undead and The Alligator People, as well as for the television series Land of the Giants and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Christel Goltz, 96, singer. Ms. Goltz was an operatic soprano known for her roles as Salome and Elektra. Over her career, Ms. Goltz performed at the Berlin State Opera, the Munich State Opera, the Vienna State Opera and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. She was praised for her roles in Wozzeck, Die Frau Ohne Schatten and Fidelo, as well as her recording of Turandot.

MC Breed, 37, rapper. Born Eric Breed, Mr. MC Breed was rap artist best known for his tracks “Ain’t No Future in Yo Frontin’” and “Gotta Get Mine.” Mr. Breed collaborated with rap group DFC early in his career and later with the rappers 2Pac, Too Short and Bootleg. His discography includes MC Breed & DFC, Saucy, The Fharmacist and The New Prescription.

Alan Gordon, 64, songwriter. Mr. Gordon was a songwriter best known for his collaborations with Garry Bonner and their songs “Happy Together” by The Turtles and “Celebrate” by Three Dog Night. His songs were covered by the likes of Petula Clark, Dr. Demento, Lesley Gore and Barbra Streisand. His songs include “Girls in Love,” “She’d Rather Be With Me” and “My Heart Belongs to Me.”

Jose Antonio Rojas (Ñico), 87, musician and composer. Mr. Rojas, known as Ñico, was part of the Filin movement of Cuban music. His music was recorded by the likes of Omara Portuondo, Elena Burke and Pablo Milanes. He is remembered for such songs and boleros as “Ahora Si Se Que Te Quiero,” “Se Consciente,” “Mi Ayer,” “Soy Un Hombre Feliz” and “Guajira a Mi Madre.

Richard Hickox, 60, conductor. Mr. Hickox was a conductor who founded the City of London Sinfonia and the Richard Hickox Singers & Orchestra. He was also the director at the Endellion Music Festival and the organist and director of St. Margaret’s, Westminster. He is noted for his productions of The Love for Three Oranges and Arabella, as well as for his recordings of Peter Grimes and War Requiem.

Robert Lucas, 46, musician. Mr. Lucas was a slide guitarist and harp player best known for his membership in the group Canned Heat. Mr. Lucas also played with Bernie Pearl, Big Joe Turner and Percy Mayfield before forming his own band Luke & the Locomotives. His discography includes Across the River and Usin’ Man Blues.

Kenny MacLean, 52, musician. Mr. MacLean was a bassist best known for his membership in the band Platinum Blonde. He also had been a member of the groups The Hairdressers, The Suspects and The Deserters. In addition to being a bassist, Mr. MacLean was also a keyboardist and a songwriter for Platinum Blonde’s Alien Shores recording. In 1991 he won a Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist. His other recordings include Don’t Look Back and Clear.

Michael Lee, 39, musician. Mr. Lee was a rock drummer best known for his collaborations with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Mr. Lee also was a drummer for The Cult and Little Angels. His discography includes Jeff Martin’s Exile and the Kingdom and Ian Gillan’s Gillan’s Inn.


Pekka Pohjola
Pekka Pohjola
Pekka Pohjola, 56, musician and composer. Mr. Pohjola was a Finnish musician, composer and producer remembered as a bassist with the progressive rock band Wigwam and groups like Made in Sweden, The Boys, Jukka Tolonen Band and The Group. His discography includes Tombstone Valentine with Wigwam, Exposed with Mike Oldfield, Pihkasilma Kaarnakorva, Space Waltz, Changing Waters and Views.

Joza Karas, 82, musician and musicologist. Mr. Karas was a violinist and musicologist who spent years searching for Jewish music lost during World War II. In addition, he was a violinist for the Hartford Symphony, as well as a professor at the Hartt School of Music.

Munetaka Higuchi, 49, musician. Mr. Higuchi was a drummer and founder with Akira Takasaki for the Japanese heavy metal band, Loudness. Mr. Higuchi appeared on the group’s debut album Destruction. Mr. Higuchi left Loudness and played with groups such as Bloodcircus and Rose of Rose and finally with Munetaka Higuchi & Dream Castle. His recording Free World featured the likes of Stanley Clarke, Billy Sheehan, Ronnie James Dio and Richie Kotzen.

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.


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