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And the Beat Goes on: Musicians Dead in June

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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 June…

Jean Ritchie, dead at 92

Jean Ritchie, also known as the “Mother of Folk,” was a Kentucky-born folk musician. She sang, wrote songs and played the Appalachian dulcimer. Born into a musical family, the Ritchies being a praised ballad-singing families in Kentucky, it was not surprising that Jean was involved in music early on. Quick to memorize song, she performed at county fairs and dances and often took home the first-prize ribbon. Eventually, Ritchie’s talents earned her a spot on the Elektra Records roster. She released three albums on the label: Jean Ritchie Sings in 1952, 1957’s Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family, and A Time for Singing in 1962.


Nick Marsh, dead at 53

Flesh for Lulu was a popular rock band from Brixton, London that was most active from 1982 to 1992. Nick Marsh, along with James Mitchell, founded the band. He played guitar and contributed vocals. In 1983, the group signed to Polydor Records and did well with their debut EP, Roman Candle. The band was dropped by the label just a year after the EP because the debut LP did not reach commercial success. Despite this, Flesh for Lulu went on to release several albums over the years. The band split in 1992 and Marsh formed Gigantic, released a solo album and performed with Urban Voodoo Machine. He reformed Flesh for Lulu in 2013.


Ronnie Gilbert, dead at 88

Born as Ruth Alice Gilbert in New York, Ronnie Gilbert was an American singer-songwriter, political activist and actress. She was an original member of The Weavers, a quartet that also included Fred Kellerman, Lee Hays and Pete Seeger. Gilbert was known for have a bold voice that could blend with others and also rise above when need be. Her vocal talent was on display when she performed with The Weavers. The influential band was, at one time, blacklisted because of its left-wing stance during the 1950s when there were a lot of anti-communism sentiments. In addition to singing, Gilbert was involved in activism, had an MA in clinical psychology and used this degree to work as a therapist for a short time, and acted.


Jim Ed Brown, dead at 81

James Edward “Jim Ed” Brown was a country singer from Arkansas well-known for his involvement with The Browns, a country act that consisted of Jim Ed and his two sisters. The group was most popular during the 1950s. Between 1965 and 1974, Brown focused on his solo career and for a time, he performed duets with Helen Cornelius. Brown’s career also involved hosting the Country Music Greats Radio Show, a Nashville-based syndicated country music show. His discography includes 22 studio releases, two compilation records and more than 50 singles.


Big Time Sarah, dead at 62

Sarah Streeter, better known as Big Time Sarah, was a blue singer from Mississippi. She was born in Goldwater but raised in Chicago. She got her start with music by singing in gospel choirs in churches around South Chicago. At 14, she sang the blues at a lounge club called Morgan’s. The 1970s saw her playing with musicians Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Erwin Helfer, Magic Slim, The Aces and more. Her debut solo release was put out on Airways Records. Streeter also performed with a group known as BTS Express and recorded with Delmark Records from the early 1990s through 2015.


Wendell Holmes, dead at 71

Wendell Holmes was a musician part of the famous trio The Holmes Brothers. Known for playing soul, R&B, gospel, blues and country music, the band became active in 1978. It was formed by brothers Sherman and Wendell, who had a rich musical upbringing. They learned how to play numerous instruments when they were young and were introduced to music by B.B. King, Junior Parker and Jimmy Reed early on. The brothers played in bands together before forming their own in 1963. They called it The Sevilles. After The Sevilles disbanded, the brothers recruited drummer Popsy Dixon and eventually, The Holmes Brothers formed. Sherman Holmes is the only surviving member of the trio. Dixon died of bladder cancer in January 2015 and the passing of Wendell in June 2015 was related to pulmonary hypertension.


Chris Squire, dead at 67

Squire was an English musician known as the bass player and founding member of Yes, a progressive rock band from London. The singer-songwriter took an early interest in music. He sang at school and church choirs as a young boy. By 16, he took to the guitar and started playing gigs with The Selfs (later known as The Syn). Squire and Jon Anderson formed Yes in 1968. For nearly 50 years, Squire was the sole bassist for the group. He was known for playing the Rickenbacker 4001 and is said to be an influential guitarist, especially among progressive rock groups. In May of this year, Squire announced a break from Yes following a diagnosis of leukemia. He passed away last month at his home in Phoenix.

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