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And the Beat Goes on: Musicians Dead in August

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

This month, the world lost influential figures in the music business, such as co-founder of Vital Entertainment and hip-hop manager Chris Lighty, and music executive and record producer Carl Davis. Several famous musicians passed away  recently, the oldest being 94-year-old Ruggiero Rici, an American violinist and the youngest Jason Noble, a 40-year-old American guitarist known for his association with acts Rodan, Rachel’s and Shipping News.

Below, find out more about some artists who passed away this month…

Marguerite Piazza, dead at 86

Marguerite Piazza was a soprano opera singer from New Orleans. She was a graduate of Loyola University of the South and studied baritone at Louisiana State University. Piazza was the youngest member of the New York City Opera when she joined the company in 1944.


Jimmy Jones, dead at 82

Born James Jones in Alabama, Jimmy Jones was a singer-songwriter well known for his 1960 hit “Handman.” Jones’ falsetto was soulful in the manner of Sam Cooke and Clyde McPhatter. His entertainment career started at a young age as a tap dancer, but in 1954, he joined the doo-wop group the Berliners and became more involved with music.


Johnnie Bassett, dead at 76

American musician Johnnie Bassett was a singer, songwriter and electric blues guitarist. Active in the music scene from the 1950s to present day, Bassett spent most of his career as a session musician. By the late portion of the 1990s, Bassett had assembled his own backing band and released half a dozen albums. His influences included B.B. King, Billy Butler, T-Bone Walker and Tiny Grimes.


Mike Kelly, dead at 68

Mike Kelly was the frontman of the Duprees for more than a decade before leaving the group and working on his solo career. Kelly was also associated with other Jersey City groups, such as Vocal Teens and Italian Asphalt and Paving Company.


Von Freeman, dead at 88

Von Freeman was a hard bop jazz tenor saxophonist from Chicago. Freeman grew up in a jazz environment and his father was close friends with Louis Armstrong. He learned to play the saxophone as a child and was active in the music field beginning in the 1930s. Freeman is father of Chico Freeman, also a jazz saxophonist.


Louis Martin, dead at 63

Louis Martin was an Irish songwriter, musician and record producer. He is best known for his work with fellow Irish musician Rory Gallagher and London-based band Killing Floor. Martin played piano, guitar and mandolin.


Scott McKenzie, dead at 73

Scott McKenzie was an American songwriter and singer. His 1967 single “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” was a major hit when it was first released. McKenzie spent some of his career playing with The New Mamas and the Papas.


Byard Lancaster, dead at 70

Byard Lancaster was a jazz fluitist and saxophonist from Philadelphia. During his career that spanned more than 50 years, Lancaster played with many musicians, such as McCoy Tyner, Johnny Copeland, Memphis SlimKhan Jamal and Sun Ra.

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