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2017
MEMORIALS
" Let us remember the great talent each possessed "



Chuck Berry
October 18th 1926 ~ March 18th 2017

Legendary musician and influencial music pioneer
, the great Chuck Berry, often called "the Father of Rock 'n' Roll" died at his home outside St. Louis, at the age of 90. Sadly he leaves behind his wife, Themetta "Toddy" Suggs, whom he married in 1948, and four children, Ingrid, Chuck junior, Aloha and Melody.

American singer, songwriter, guitarist and pioneer Chuck Berry was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St. Louis, Missouri. He had an interest in music from an early age and his first guitar was a second-hand Spanish acoustic, but by 1952, influenced by the 1940s guitarist Charlie Christian, he had gone electric. As a teenager he began playing concerts in his local high school but his education was curtailed after he was convicted of robbery and spent 3 years in a reformatory for young offenders. On his release he made a living hairdressing and working at an automobile assembly plant, but playing in a trio in the evenings with Ebby Harding on drums and Johnnie Johnson on piano. He was influenced by blues heroes such as Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker, as well as white country and western music, though his singing style owed much to the clarity of Nat King Cole. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Leonard Chess, of Chess Records, where he recorded "Maybellene" which sold over a million copies. He penned his own material, creating a songbook through the mid-1950s which included hits such as "Roll Over Beethoven", "Too Much Monkey Business", "Brown Eyed Handsome Man", "Rock and Roll Music", "Little Queenie", "School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)", "Sweet Little Sixteen", "Johnny B. Goode", "Back in the U.S.A.", "Memphis, Tennessee" and others. He also appeared in several rock films including Rock, Rock, Rock and Mr Rock and Roll, both from 1957; Go Johnny Go from 1959; and Jazz on a Summer's Day in 1960. By the end of the 50s Chuck was an established star and a nightclub owner. But in 1960, married with four children, he was found guilty of taking a 14-year-old girl across a state line, to work in his club as a cloakroom girl. He protested that she only went to the police after he fired her from his nightclub, and that he had thought she was 20. He was eventally jailed for 18 months until late 1963. When Chuck was released his return to recording and performing was made easier because British invasion bands—notably the Beatles and the Rolling Stones—had sustained interest in his music by releasing cover versions of his songs, and other bands had reworked some of them, such as the Beach Boys' 1963 hit "Surfin' U.S.A.", which used the melody of Chuck's "Sweet Little Sixteen". In 1964 and 1965 he released eight singles, including three that were commercially successful, "No Particular Place to Go", "You Never Can Tell", and "Nadine". In May 1964, he had made a successful tour of the UK, and also played at large events in North America, such as the Schaefer Music Festival, in New York City's Central Park in July 1969, and the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival in October. The early 70's saw him release "My Ding-a-Ling", a live version of "Reelin' and Rockin'" and the album 'The London Chuck Berry Sessions'. In March 1972 he was filmed, at the BBC Televsion Theatre in Shepherds Bush, for 'Chuck Berry in Concert' part of a 60-date tour backed by the band Rocking Horse. Among the many bands performing a backup role with Chuck in the 1970s were Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller. Through the later 70's, 80's and 90's he continued to play 70 to 100 one-nighters per year traveling solo and requiring a local band to back him at each stop. In 1986, Taylor Hackford made a documentary film, "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll", of a celebration concert for his sixtieth birthday, organized by Keith Richards. Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Linda Ronstadt, among others, appeared with him on stage and in the film. In 2008, he toured Europe, with stops in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland and Spain. During a concert on New Year's Day 2011 in Chicago, Chuck, suffering from exhaustion, passed out and had to be helped off stage. He performed once a month at a restaurant in St Louis, Blueberry Hill, until 2014, the year in which he was awarded the Polar music prize, and intermittently thereafter. Among other honours, he received a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 1984, and a Kennedy Center Honor in 2000. On his 90th birthday Chuck announced that his first new studio album since 'Rock It' in 1979, entitled 'Chuck', would be released in 2017, and it features his children, Charles and Ingrid, on guitar and harmonica, and he dedicated to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry.

James Cotton
July 1st 1935 ~ March 16th 2017

World renowned and legendary master of the blues harmonica, James "Mr. Superharp" Cotton has died at a medical center in Austin, Texas from pneumonia, at the age of 81. Sadly he leaves behind his wife Jacklyn, daughters Teresa and Marshall Ann, son James, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, James Henry Cotton, dubbed
"Mr. Superharp", was born in Tunica, Mississippi, but by the time he was nine both of his parents had passed away and he left home with his uncle and moved to West Helena, Arkansas, where Sonny Boy Williamson II mentored him in his early career. At the age of 15 he cut four songs for the fledging label Sun Records: “Straighten Up Baby,” “Hold Me In Your Arms,” “Oh, Baby,” and “Cotton Crop Blues” for the and at aged 17 KWEM, a radio station in West Memphis, Arkansas, as well as performing with the Howlin' Wolf's band in the early 1950s. In 1955 he was invited to join the Muddy Waters Band and stayed with the group for eleven years, until 1966. Jame's first recording session with Waters took place in June 1957 and he alternated with Little Walter on Waters's recording sessions until the end of the decade. In 1965 James formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to perform with in-between the Waters's band gigs. In 1966, he toured and recorded with Janis Joplin while pursuing his solo career, before he formed the James Cotton Blues Band in 1967. In the 1970s, he recorded several albums and reunited with Waters when he played harmonica on Muddy's Grammy Award–winning 1977 album 'Hard Again', which was produced by Johnny Winter. He won a host of prizes throughout his career, including six Living Blues Awards and 10 Blues Music. The James Cotton Blues Band received a Grammy nomination in 1984 for 'Live from Chicago: Mr. Superharp Himself!'; a second for his 1987 album 'Take Me Back' and was awarded a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for 'Deep in the Blues' in 1996. Over his long career James performed and recorded with dozens of greats including Freddie King, B.B. King, Santana, Elvin Bishop, Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Gregg Allman, Sonny Boy Williamson, Johnny Winter, Alexis Korner, Jimmie Vaughan, Big Mama Thornton, Steve Miller, Mike Bloomfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Keith Richards and William "Billy Boy" Arnold to mention a few and in 2006, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In August 2010, James was the special guest on Larry Monroe's farewell broadcast of Blue Monday, which he hosted on KUT in Austin, for nearly 30 years. James's studio album 'Giant', released in late September 2010, was nominated for a Grammy Award and his album 'Cotton Mouth Man', released in May 2013, was also a Grammy nominee. He played harmonica on "Matches Don't Burn Memories" on the debut album by the Dr. Izzy Band, Blind & Blues Bound, released in June 2013 and in 2014, he won a Blues Music Award for Traditional Male Blues Artist and was also nominated in the category Best Instrumentalist, Harmonica.

Al Jarreau
March 12th 1940
~ February 12th 2017
Seven time Grammy winner, jazz legend Al Jarreau died at the age of 76, just two days after announcing his retirement. Al died after he had been hospitalized in Los Angeles for exhaustion. Sadly he leaves behind his wife of 40 years Susan; and their son Ryan.

American jazz and R&B singer was born Alwin Lopez Jarreau in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He studied at Ripon College, where he also sang with a group called the Indigos, before he graduated in 1962 with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. He then earnt a master's degree in voc
ational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa and also sang with a jazz trio headed by George Duke. In 1967, he joined forces with acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez; the duo became the star attraction at a small Sausalito night club called Gatsby's, then in 1968, Al made jazz his primary occupation. Television exposure came from Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, and David Frost and he expanded his nightclub appearances performing at The Improv between the acts of rising stars such as comics Bette Midler, Jimmie Walker, and John Belushi. In 1975, he was working with pianist Tom Canning when he was spotted by Warner Bros Records, then on Valentine's Day 1976 Al sang on NBC's new Saturday Night Live, after which he released his critically acclaimed debut album, 'We Got By', which catapulted him to international fame and garnered him an Echo Award and a second Echo Award followed with the release of his second album, 'Glow'. In 1978, Al won his first of seven U.S. Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for his album, 'Look To The Rainbow'. One of Al's most commercially successful albums, his 1981 ' Breakin' Away' includes the hit song "We're in This Love Together". He won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for 'Breakin' Away'. His last big hit was the Grammy nominated theme to the 1980s American television show "Moonlighting", for which he wrote the lyrics. Among other things, he was well known for his extensive use of scat singing and vocal percussion. Al was also a featured vocalist on USA for Africa's "We Are the World" in which he sang the line, "...and so we all must lend a helping hand" and another charitable media event, HBO's Comic Relief, featured Al in a duet with Natalie Cole singing the song "Mr. President". Al toured and performed with the likesn of Joe Sample, Chick Corea, Kathleen Battle, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Rick Braun, and George Benson among others and also performed the role of the Teen Angel in a 1996 Broadway production of Grease. On March 6th 2001, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2006, he appeared in a duet with American Idol finalist Paris Bennett during the Season 5 finale and on Celebrity Duets singing with actor Cheech Marin. In February 2012, he was invited to the Italian Festival di Sanremo to sing with the Italian group Matia Bazar. In June 2012 Al was diagnosed with pneumonia, which caused him to cancel several concerts in France; he made a full recovery and continued to tour extensively until his retirement in February 2017, but after having been hospitalized for exhaustion in LA, sadly he died just two days after announcing his retirement.

John Wetton
June 12th 1949 ~ January 31st 2017

Progressive rock figurehead, John Wetton, who performed in bands such as King Crimson, Uriah Heep, and the supergroup Asia has died at the age of 67, following a battle with cancer. Sadly he leaves behind his wife Lisa, son Dylan, brother Robert and his mother Margaret.

English bassist, singer-songwriter, John Kenneth Wetton, was born in Willington, Derbyshire, and grew up in Bournemouth.
He was in a number of early bands including, The Corvettes, The Palmer-James Group, Tetrad, and Ginger Man. A key early band was Mogul Thrash; after live work with Renaissance, he joined Family and also did various sessions. His first big break came when he joined musician Robert Fripp in his new line-up of King Crimson in 1972, as a lead singer and composer. After King Crimson's split in 1974, John continued to work on various projects, including a tour with Roxy Music and two albums with Uriah Heep. In 1977, after failed attempts to reunite King Crimson and create a new band with Rick Wakeman, John formed the supergroup U.K. In '78 and '79 the band released two studio albums and toured in support of Jethro Tull, but disbanded in 1980. Later that same year, he had a brief stint in Wishbone Ash, contributing bass and vocals to their album 'Number the Brave'. In 1981, John started working and writing with Steve Howe, and they went on to form Asia; their debut album sold eight million copies worldwide and was Billboard magazine's No.1 album of 1982. He worked with Asia until 1983, when he was fired from at the insistence of Geffen Records, ostensibly because of less-than-expected sales of the 'Alpha' album, but he was brought back to Asia in 1985, with Mandy Meyer replacing Steve Howe, to complete their Astra album. The 1990s saw him mostly out of Asia and focusing on a solo career. In 1999, another attempt to reform Asia resulted in Wetton participating in the short-lived progressive rock group Qango with Carl Palmer, John Young, and Dave Kilminster. In the early 2000s, John reunited with Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes for iCon. Then in 2006, an official reunion of the original Asia line-up, John, Downes, Howe, and Palmer finally happened, they released three albums Phoenix in 2008, the original band's first since 1983's Alpha, 'Omega' in 2010 and 'XXX' before Howe departed in January 2013. With new guitarist Sam Coulson, Asia released 'Gravitas' in 2014. Over his long career, John also worked extensively as a session musician with musicians and bands such as Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, Family, Mogul Thrash, Jack-Knife, Atoll, Phil Manzanera, among others and in 2013 he guested on the album 'Grandine il vento' with Renaissance, with whom he had played live 42 years before.


Geoff Nicholls
February 28th 1948 ~ January 28th 2017

Geoff Nicholls, Black Sabbath's longtime keyboardist who performed with the heavy metal legends for 25 years, sadly died Saturday following a long brave battle with lung cancer. He was 68.

English keyboardist, guitarist, bassist and longtime member of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, until 2004. Born Geoffrey James Nicholls in Birmingham, he played in several local bands as a teenager; the first band he joined in the early 60s was Colin Storm & the Whirlwinds, then in the late 1960s/early 1970s, he played lead guitar for the Birmingham band Johnny Neal and the Starliners, before joining a new wave of British heavy metal band, known as Bandylegs, which soon changed their name to Quartz, whose members also included Mick Hopkins and Malcolm Cope and their 1977 self titled debut album was produced by Iommi. He first worked with Black Sabbath in 1979, originally as a second guitarist when the band doubted whether they would even continue under that name. He then switched to bass guitar when Geezer Butler left briefly, after which he became the band's keyboardist upon Butler's return and the decision was made to keep the Sabbath name. His first appearance on a Black Sabbath album was on 'Heaven and Hell' in 1980, and he was credited as keyboardist on every Sabbath release from that time until '13' in 2013, nine studio albums in all. He was not actually an "official member" until 1986 and remained an official member until 1991, then regained member status again from 1993 to 1996. He was an unofficial member once again since the reunion with Ozzy Osbourne in 1997. Although his main role with Sabbath for over 25 years was on the keyboard, Geoff also played some rhythm guitar on the reunion tours, e.g., during Iommi's solo in "Snowblind" and a few tracks during the Headless Cross-1989 and Forbidden-1995 tours.
In addition to not always being credited as a full member of the band, he has rarely appeared on stage proper during Sabbath shows; instead the unsung hero usually played in a side-stage or backstage position. An exception to this was the tour in support of the album 'Seventh Star' in 1986, wherein he played on stage as an equal member of the band. Another was a concert in May 1988, wherein he played bass for a charity function and of course we remember he filled in as lead vocalist for Sabbath during the ill fated tour with Glenn Hughes, with Glenn 'unable' to perform live vocals, Geoff stepped in to save total embarassment. Geoff also played behind Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin and drummer Cozy Powell on their respective solo projects. After Sabbath until his death, Geoff played keyboards for Tony Martin, in his band Tony Martin's Headless Cross.


Pete "Overend" Watts
May 13th 1947 ~ January 22nd 2017

A prime mover behind the British glam-era band’s distinctive image,
Mott the Hoople founder member and bassist, Peter Overend Watts, has sadly died at the age of 69. He had been bravely battling throat cancer for six years

English bass guitar player and founding member of 1970s rock band, Mott the Hoople. Born in Yardley, Birmingham, he moved as a child to Worthing, Sussex, and then to Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, where he started learning guitar while at Ross Grammar School and became a professional musician alongside Mick Ralphs in a group, the Buddies, that played in German clubs. The group later became the Doc Thomas Group, and then Shakedown Sound, before finally changing their name to Silence and returning to London in 1969. The group then added singer Ian Hunter, and became Mott the Hoople. At this time, taking the advice of manager Guy Stevens, Pete adopted the stage name Overend Watts, his real middle name, which came from a family ancestor. Mott The Hoople quickly built up a fearsome reputation as a dynamite live attraction playing no holds barred, gloriously ragged rock’ n’ roll and much of the group’s raw energy emanated from band’s propulsive engine room; the thunderous rhythm section of Overend and Dale Griffin. They had hits such as "All the Young Dudes", written and produced by David Bowie which was their biggest hit reaching No.3 in the UK charts and No.37 in the USA. Other hits included "Honaloochie Boogie", "All the Way from Memphis", "Roll Away the Stone", "The Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll" and "Foxy, Foxy" and "Saturday Gigs". Following the departure of Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs from the band, in 1974, the remaining members of Mott the Hoople recruited relative unknowns Ray Major, on guitar, and Nigel Benjamin, on vocals. The name was abbreviated to Mott and a further two albums were recorded with this line-up, before Benjamin quit. Overend continued with Dale "Buffin" Griffin, Morgan Fisher and Ray Major in the Mott successor British Lions, recruiting former Medicine Head member John Fiddler, until their demise around 1979. Overend later became a record producer, producing albums for artists such as Hanoi Rocks, Dumb Blondes. In 1990, after a brief reunion in 1989, the former members of The Silence reunited in the studio to record a mix of new songs and staples from their days performing together. The resultant album, Shotgun Eyes, was released in 1998 as 'The Italian Job' combined with the re-release of the Doc Thomas Group's self-titled album. On 16 January 2009, it was announced that Mott the Hoople would be re-uniting for two concerts at the Hammersmith Apollo in London , their 40th anniversary reunion; tickets for the two original dates sold out, and a third date at the same venue was added for October 3rd 2009. After that one sold out as well another two dates were added on 5th and 6th October. The special limited 3 CD-set recorded during the first show at Hammersmith Apollo was sold directly after the concerts. Mott the Hoople, featuring Overend , Allen, Hunter, and Ralphs with Martin Chambers on drums again reunited to play the O2 Arena in London in November 2013, preceded by dates in Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester. Overend is also well known for his long-distance walks as well as running a large retro store in Hereford, selling specialist clothing, unusual antiquities, instruments and rare music and he wrote a book "The Man Who Hated Walking" which was published in 2013


Buddy Greco
August 14th 1926 ~ January 10th 2017
Legendary crooner, jazz pianist, Las Vegas Mainstay and friend of the Rat Pack, Buddy Greco, has died in Las Vegas at the age of 90 years. Five times married, Buddy sadly leaves behind his wife Lezlie and his seven children from his previous marriages.
BUDDY GRECO
American jazz musian, Buddy Greco was born
Armando Greco in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and began singing on the radio at age 4 and playing the piano at age 6. He was singing and performing in the clubs during his early teens and when he was 16, he was hired by Benny Goodman and toured worldwide. He spent four years with Goodman's orchestra, singing, playing piano, and arranging. A
t the age of 20, he returned to nightclubs, singing and playing piano. He also recorded many hit songs in jazz, pop, and country music, including "Oh Look A-There", "Ain't She Pretty", "Up, Up and Away" and "Around the World". His most successful single was "The Lady Is a Tramp", which sold over one million copies. During his career, he recorded over sixty albums. He conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, performed for Queen Elizabeth II and with the Beatles. In the 1960s, his career expanded into movies and television. Buddy hosted his own TV special in 1965 and often appeared in the TV series 'Away We Go' and had a role in the movie 'The Girl Who Knew Too Much'. He worked with Ron Eschete from 1969–1970. The duo appeared in several TV shows, including The Mike Douglas Show. In 1992, Buddy began a thirteen-week act in Las Vegas at the Starlight Room at Stars' Desert Inn. Buddy became a legend in Las Vegas and went on to headline shows at many classic strip hotels. This brought about his second big period of fame. The following year he was added to the Philadelphia Music Alliance's Walk of Fame. Shortly after, he toured Italy, France, Australia, and England. In 2004 he and his wife, singer Lezlie Anders were headliners with the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies at the Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, California and they opened 'Buddy Greco's Fine Dinner Club' in Cathedral City, Calif., in 2006. He spent years performing in clubs around England and 2008 the couple moved to Southend, Essex, though he still owned his house in Palm Springs, California, where he often spent vacations. In 2008, he toured the UK with Lezlie, they performed with the BBC Big Band and played at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Buddy was the first Las Vegas headliner to star at a British casino when he performed in cabaret in 2008 at the Circus Casino, Star City, Birmingham. In 2010 he and his wife produced the stage show Fever! The Music of Miss Peggy Lee, which met with critical acclaim and opened in London's West End. The show tells of the life and music of Peggy Lee. On New Year's Eve 2011 he made a guest appearance on Jools Holland's Hootenanny singing Fly Me to the Moon backed by the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, after which in 2012, Buddy toured England in smaller venues, including Thameside Theatre Stage, and The Broadway in Essex and in 2013, he celebrated his 80th year in show business in a concert in Southend, Essex.



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I started these tribute pages June of 2004, when the great Ray Charles died,
I wrote a tribute to him... and just carried it on from there.
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HAVE A SMALL TRIBUTE WITH ALL THE DEATHS
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