Category Archives: Obituaries

Spanish Flamenco Singer Chiquetete dies at 70

Chiquetete

Spanish flamenco and ballad singer Antonio José Cortés Pantoja, better known as Chiquetete, died in Seville, Spain on December 16, 2019 after surgery complications. He was 70 years old.

Chiquetete (the boy) was born in Algeciras, Cádiz, on July 26, 1948 in a gypsy family.  The household relocated to Seville when he was 8 years old.  At 12, he joined the group Los Algecireños (later called Los Gitanillos del Tardón) with Manuel Molina Jiménez and Manolo Domínguez “El Rubio”.  At that time he adopted the artistic name of his maternal uncle, known as El chiquetete de Jerez.

In 1976, he won the Mairena del Alcor Prize. After that, he began his solo career with the recording Gitano yo he nacio in 1977 and Triana despierta (1979), accompanied by acclaimed guitarists Paco Cepero and Enrique de Melchor.

He was a flamenco singer until 1980. Chiquetete’s LP Altozano meant a radical shift in his career as he entered the romantic ballad genre with flamenco influences. This was followed by Tú y yo in 1981.

Chiquetete

In 1988 he released Sevilla sin tu amor, which included one of his greatest hits: A la Puerta de Toledo. A year later he released Canalla, with songs composed by romantic ballad hit maker Juan Pardo, although this album was not as successful as previous efforts.

In the 1990s he released three albums. After retiring for a few years, Chiquetete came back with Como la marea (2004), produced by his son Fran Cortés.

In recent years, Chiquete continued performing traditional flamenco and ballads.

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Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Maestro Cyril Pahinui Dies at 68

Cyril Pahinui – Photo by Chelle Pahinui

Cyril Pahinui, one of Hawaii’s finest slack key guitar players died on November 17, 2018. He was 68 years old.

Cyril Pahinui participated in over 50 albums and recorded with a lot of Hawaii’s leading musicians. In 2017, Pahinui was designated a heritage fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, read his biography.

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Trinidad Calypso Legend, the Mighty Shadow, Dies

Winston McGarland Bailey, the Mighty Shadow.

The outstanding calypso/soca singer and musician, the Mighty Shadow, died at hospital, in the early hours of Tuesday, October 23, 2018. He was 77.

Ailing for some time, he’d suffered a stroke just days before.

Over the course of 5 decades, he’d stood out with his unique dress(regularly like ‘a minute past midnight’, under a broad-rimmed hat), vertical bounce dance style(a la Masai tribesmen), sound(infused with ‘tambrin’ goatskin-drum and fiddle/violin motifs), and lyrics(‘so serious, they sometimes sounded humorous’).

Born in Belmont, a suburb of Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, he grew up, from around age 4, on a farm in the village of Les Coteaux, over on the sister isle, Tobago, and soon took to music, accompanying his musician grandfather, later starting to compose songs(via guitar, primarily).

A strapping 6-footer with a raspy, low register voice, and given to hums, his experiments with ‘walking’, more fluid basslines and rootsy elements began informing a new sound,- the ‘soul of calypso’, which entered the lexicon through fellow musician, Lord Shorty, who added transposed East Indian elements and named it ‘sokah’.

In a tent for the first time in 1970 (under the Mighty Sparrow), he broke through in a big way with “Bassman”, the ‘road march’(, or song played most over the 2 costumed parade days of the country’s pre-Lenten carnival,), and “I Come Out To Play”, in 1974.(“Bassman” opens…’I was planning to forget calypso and go’ plant peas in Tobago…But everytime I lay down in meh’ bed…hearing this bassman in meh head’)

He repeated the feat in 2001, with “Stranger”, which also led to victory in the soca monarch contest.

After narrowly finishing second to the Sparrow 26 years earlier, he prevailed in the national calypso monarch contest in 2000.

Songs about life, philosophy (“My Belief” and “Dingloay” aka “Music), the music industry (1979’s “Dat Soca Boat”, arranged by the influential Art de Coteau, a cracker that featured on the 2011 compilation, ‘Sofrito: Tropical Discotheque’, and “Sing Boy Sing” about piracy), brotherly and romantic love, the ‘dark arts’/bizarre (2001’s “Goumangala”), childhood influences, and, every so often, ‘doing-me-wrong’ competition judges(…with ‘…degrees in stupidity’) made up a vast, varied repertoire.

The classic “Poverty Is Hell” (..,’and the angels are in paradise…”), amazingly, failed to get him into the 1994 calypso final.

Apart from stints in those of the Sparrow, Lord Blakie(‘Victory’), and Lord Kitchener(Calypso Revue), he also appeared with the other tents (multi-artiste venues that operate during the carnival season), such as Kingdom of the Wizards, Spektakula, Kisskidee, and Kaiso House, and in-between, in the a decade from the late 1970’s, ran 2- Master’s Den and Mas Camp.

The Shadow received one of Trinidad+Tobago’s highest civilian honors, the Hummingbird Medal, in 2003, for ‘contribution to the arts’, and was due to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies on the weekend of October 26-28, 2018.

Among the many paying tribute was the country’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, who said he’d “revolutionized the calypso world with his haunting sound and unique delivery which he crafted and perfected in an impressive catalogue of work spanning several decades.”

He was an original in all his various musical creations. His music told us stories about ourselves through poignant social commentary which was often fused with wry humour. Over the years his contribution to the development of our local music earned him regional and international acclaim”.

Shadow leaves to mourn 5 children, including Shawn and Sharlan, who both followed him into calypso.

Winston McGarland Bailey, calypsonian, ‘the Mighty Shadow’, Oct. 4, 1941-Oct. 23, 2018

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Acclaimed Latin Jazz Trumpeter and Percussionist Jerry Gonzalez Dead at 69

Today, the Latin Jazz community is mourning the loss of trumpeter and conguero Jerry Gonzalez. Reports of a fire at his home in the Lavapiés district of Madrid summoned Spain’s National Police and paramedics where they discovered the musician. He was rushed to San Carlos Clinical Hospital where he died hours later. Mr. Gonzalez was 69.

Mr. Gonzalez was born into New York City’s Puerto Rican community on June 5, 1949. The rich world of music was already a staple in the Gonzalez house with Jerry Gonzalez, Sr. serving as a master of ceremonies and a lead singer along with musicians like Claudio Ferrer. His brother and bassist Andy Gonzalez would go on to follow his own musical career, often playing with his brother.

Taking up the trumpet and congas in junior high school, Mr. Gonzalez launched his musical career playing with local bands. After attending the New York College of Music and New York University, Mr. Gonzalez started playing with Lewellyn Matthews and in the 1970s played congas with Dizzy Gillespie and began merging African rhythms into jazz themes. He was a stalwart proponent of Latin music and an indefatigable explorer of the possibilities of Latin Jazz.

Mr. Gonzalez would go on to play with the likes of Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, Manny Oquendo and Eddie Palmieri. He found his groove by heading up The Fort Apache Band. Recordings like Ya Yo Me Cure, The River is Deep, Obatala, Pensativo, Calle 54, Rumba Buhaina and Jerry Gonzalez y El Comando de La Clave would soon stack up alongside appearances on Kip Hanrahan’s Coup de Tete, Tito Puente’s On Broadway, Carlos “Patato” Valdes’s Masterpiece, Steve Turre’s Viewpoints on Vibrations, Kirk Lightsey’s Kenny Kirkland, Bobby Hutcherson’s Acoustic Master II and Sonny Fortune’s A Better Understanding.

Jerry Gonzalez

Settling in Spain and lending his talents to flamenco, Mr. Gonzalez appeared with Diego “El Cigala” on Corren Tiempos de Alegria and Picasso en Mis Ojos and Paco de Lucia on Cositas Buenas, as well as collaborated with Javier Limon on La Tierra del Agua and Son de Limon and Andres Calamaro on Obras Incompletas and On the Rock.

Mr. Gonzalez earned film credits as well in Leon Ichaso’ s Crossover, Fernando Trueba’s Calle 54 and Leon Ichaso’s Pinero. In addition to The Fort Apache Band, Mr. Gonzalez also led the quartet El Comando de la Clave with Miguel Blanco.

The General Society of Authors of Spain (SGAE) issued a tweet mourning Mr. Gonzalez’s loss by calling him, “one of the pioneers of Latin Jazz and founder of the legendary group Fort Apache Band.”
No announcement has been made yet on funeral or memorial services

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Otis Rush, Legendary Chicago Blues Guitarist, Dies at 84

Otis Rush

Masaki Rush, wife of Otis Rush, announced that highly influential Chicago blues musician Otis Rush, died September 29, 2018 due to complications from a stroke which he initially suffered in 2003.

“GRAMMY winner Otis Rush was one of the most influential guitarists of the Chicago blues scene, best known for crafting the city’s “West Side Sound,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “With his passionate vocals, unique performance style, and jazz-influenced guitar playing, Rush set the standard for blues musicians in Chicago and beyond.

He earned four GRAMMY nominations throughout his expansive career, and was awarded the Best Traditional Blues Album GRAMMY for Any Place I’m Going at the 41st Annual GRAMMY Awards. He will forever be remembered for transforming traditional blues into a more intensified sound, and influencing many of the rock and blues greats that followed him. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.”

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Steel Pan Pioneer Ellie Mannette Dies at 90

Ellie Mannette with Hillary Clinton on the occasion of his NEA Heritage Award in 1999

Steel pan innovator Ellie Mannette passed away August 29, 2018 in Morgantown, West Virginia. He was 90 years old.

Shannon Dudley, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington provided the following obituary: “Mannette was arguably the most influential steel pan tuner (builder) in the world because of the quality of his instruments and also his willingness to teach and share.

He made his name in Trinidad, beginning in the 1940s, as the leader and tuner for the Invaders steelband, whose instruments were sometimes referred to as “harps” because of their beautiful sound. Based at the edge of the Woodbrook neighborhood in Port of Spain, Invaders became one of the first steelbands to acquire a middle class following.

Mannette developed relationships with middle class artists, including dancer Beryl McBurnie and her Little Carib theatre. In the competitive and secretive culture of Trinidad steelbands, he was one of the few tuners who was willing to teach his skills to others, which magnified his influence.

In 1961 Mannette was hired to tune steel pans for the U.S. Navy Steelband, and a few years later he moved to Brooklyn, New York. In New York he met social worker Murray Narell and worked with him to build instruments and teach steel pan to young people in community centers. He developed a lifelong relationship with Murray’s son Andy Narell, who became one of the most innovative and recognized steel pan players in the world through his fusions of Caribbean music and jazz.

In the 1970s Mannette began to work with music educator Jimmy Leyden, a pioneer in introducing steelbands into schools in the U.S., and soon became the go-to steel pan tuner for school and university steelbands across the U.S.

In 1992 Mannette began the University Tuning Project in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he took on West Virginia University students as apprentices and expanded his tuning business. In 1999 he received the NEA’s Heritage Award, and was subsequently honored in Trinidad with the Chaconia Silver Medal and an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies.

I had the opportunity to meet Ellie Mannette a couple of times in the 1980s and 1990s. He was supremely confident of his knowledge and skills and didn’t hesitate to share them. A brazen self-promoter, he also had a youthful enthusiasm for discovery and improvement that was endearing. He will be missed and remembered by steelband enthusiasts all over the world.”

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Acclaimed Ugandan Musician Geoffrey Oryema Dies at 65

Ugandan media, and his official Facebook site, reported today the passing of celebrated world music artist Geoffrey Oryema. Oryema was born in Uganda and had been living in France. His greatest hit was “Land of Anaka” from his 1990 album Exile.

For biographical information and discography, go to Artist Profiles: Geoffrey Oryema

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Clarence Fountain, founder of Blind Boys of Alabama, Dies at 88

Clarence Fountain died Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 in a hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was 88 years old.

Clarence Fountain was a founding member of the GRAMMY-winning gospel group Blind Boys of Alabama, and was seen as a pillar of inspiration in the music industry,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “He lent his distinctive vocals to the ensemble’s extensive catalog of recordings for more than 70 years and helped drive the group to mainstream success in 1948 with “I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine.” With the Blind Boys, he earned four GRAMMY Awards in the Best Traditional Gospel Soul Album category and the group was honored with the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 for their remarkable contributions to gospel music. Clarence will be dearly missed, and our thoughts go out to his loved ones during this difficult time.”

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