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And the Beat Goes on: Musicians Dead in April

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Death is inevitable. But at The Spec, we share this sentiment with Neil Strauss: “Everyone loves you when you’re dead.”

Learn a little more about some of the musicians dead in April…

Dave Ball, dead at 65

David J. Ball was a rock guitarist who performed with numerous bands throughout his career, including Procol Harum, Big Bertha, Long John Baldry, Nickey Barclay Band, Rashid Goes To Nizw and The Palers. He also formed his own band, Bedlam, with drummer Cozy Powell and his brother Dennis. The group released just one album on Chrysalis before disbanding. In 2012, Ball released his solo album titled Don’t Forget Your Alligator. In addition to making music, Ball was a writer and illustrator.

Julie Wilson, dead at 90

American actress and singer Julie May Wilson was active in the entertainment industry for nearly 50 years, from 1942 to 1990. Born in Omaha, Wilson’s first musical experience came during her teenage years when she was involved with a local musical group called Hank’s Hepcats. At one time she carried the title of Miss Nebraska and following World War II, she moved to New York City where she found work at two popular Manhattan nightclubs: Copacabana and Latin Quarter. In 1989, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a musical for her notable work in “Legs Diamond.”

Percy Sledge, dead at 74

When a Man Loves a Woman” is one of Percy Sledge’s ultimate hits. In 1966, it made it to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B singles chart. Sledge hit his peak from the late half of the 1960s on into the 1970s. He performed gospel, traditional pop, R&B and soul music, receiving a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Career Achievement award, and earning an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. His album discography includes nine releases between 1966 and 2013.

Johnny Kemp, dead at 55

Kemp was a musician from the Bahamas who performed R&B and pop music. He was a singer, songwriter and producer who also played bass synthesizer and keyboards. His career started with him singing in nightclubs at the young age of 13. In 1979, Kemp moved to New York with Kinky Fox band and in 1986, he released his self-titled debut album, which featured “Just Another Love.” The Bahamian singer was also known for popular tracks “Just Got Paid” and “Dancin’ with Myself,” which were included on his Secrets of Flying album from 1987.

Richard Anthony, dead at 77

Richard Anthony, also known under the name Ricardo Anthony Btesh, was a French singer. His impressive discography includes more than 75 releases spanning from 1958 to 1998. Anthony spoke six different languages. He, along with Claude François, Georges Moustaki and Dalida, was known for being one of the few French singers born in Egypt.

Guy LeBlanc, dead at 54

LeBlanc was a Canadian composer and keyboardist. He is known for being a founding member of the progressive rock group Nathan Mahl. He was also a member of Camel. LeBlanc also performed as a solo artist — producing his first solo disc, Subversia, in 1999 and then All the Rage, which was a more personal record composed over a two-year period and released in 2004.

Jack Ely, dead at 71

When you hear “Louie Louie,” you’re likely to think of the Kingsmen and Jack Ely, an American singer and guitarist from Portland. Ely received formal training in piano at a young age and starting playing guitar after seeing a TV performance of Elvis Presley. He co-founded the Kingsmen in 1959 and recorded “Louie Louie” with the band in 1963. Prior to the song becoming a hit, Ely was kicked out of the group and started a new band called the Courtmen. During the 1960s, Indiana governor Matthew Welsh banned “Louie Louie,” deeming it obscene. If that wasn’t bad enough, the FBI got involved and spent two years investigating the lyrics of the song. Today, it is known as “rock’s ultimate rebel anthem,” and has been recorded by numerous artists.

Ben E. King, dead at 76

Benjamin Earl King was a North Carolina-born R&B and soul singer. He is well known as the co-composer and singer of the popular song “Stand By Me.” In the late 1950s, King was a member of the doo-wop group Five Crowns. In 1958, Drifters manager George Treadwell replaced the original members of Drifters with the Five Crowns. The group went on to have a number of hits on Atlantic Records. Other notable songs by King include 1961’s “Spanish Harlem” and “There Goes My Baby,” the first hit by the Drifters released in 1959, which King co-wrote and sang lead on.

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