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And the Beat Goes on: Musicians Who Died in 2011

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

Some musicians who passed this year were loved and well known before they died. To name a lot: Amy Winehouse, Gerard Smith, Ross MacManus, Heavy D, Nate Dogg, M-Bone, Sam Rivers, Gil Scott-Heron, DJ Mehdi, Clarence Clemons, Andrea True, Mikey Welsh, Slim Dunkin, Dobie Gray, John Walker, Nick Ashford, Mike Starr and Gerry Rafferty.

See below to learn more about 10 late musicians whose music you should get acquainted with…

Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood, dead at 69

Sherwood was an American musician best known for his involvement in The Mothers of Invention. He contributed vocals, tambourine, and saxophone (soprano, tenor and baritone) to the band, which was considered the brainchild of Mr. Frank Zappa.


Bob Brookmeyer, dead at 81

Brookmeyer was best known for being a jazz valve trombonist. Between 1954 and 1957, he was a member of Gerry Mulligan‘s quartet. The American artist was very active in the jazz scene of the 1950s and 1960s. Among many other accomplishments, Brookmeyer worked alongside Jimmy Giuffre, played in the house band for the Merv Griffin Show and wrote arrangements for musicians such as Ray Charles. He was also a pianist, composer and arranger.


Hubert Sumlin, dead at 80

Sumlin was an American blues guitarist who played in Howlin’ Wolf‘s band. His contribution to music has been recognized in the form of several honors. In 2008, he was inducted into The Blues Foundation‘s Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone ranked him 65 out of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were said to have contributed to his funeral costs. Sumlin was given his first guitar at the age of 6.


Bill Tapia, dead at 103

Tapia, an American ukulelist, began his career as a professional musician before he was a teenager. One of his first gigs was playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” in front of World War I troops in Hawaii. Throughout his career, he performed with famous musicians, such as Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong.

Though Tapia began playing at a young age, he did not start recording music until 2004, at the ripe age of 96 years old. He continued to perform and record, even after reaching 100. Tapia was the subject of a PBS documentary film To You Sweetheart, Aloha. He died in his sleep, one month short of turning 104 years old.


Coco Robicheaux, dead at 64

Coco Robicheaux, born Curtis Arceneaux, was an American artist and blues musician. Arceneaux took his stage name, Coco Robicheaux, from a Louisiana legend about a bad child, by the same name, abducted by a werewolf. Robicheaux’s last album, Revelator, was released in 2010.


Kuldeep Manak, dead at 62

Manak was an Indian Punjabi language singer. Music was a shared interest in his family, as both his father and brother were singers. Manak was discovered while playing with Harcharan Grewal and Seema in Delhi. A music company showed interest in the singer and asked him to record “Jija Akhian Na Maar Ve Main Kall Di Kurhi” with Seema. He would later record enough music to release a record, which received a lot of attention.


Keef Hartley, dead at 67

Hartley was a British musician who began his career as a replacement for Ringo Starr in the Liverpool-based Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He also fronted his own band, the first British band to perform at Woodstock, called the Keef Hartley Band.

During his career, Hartley was a member of Dog Soldier and worked with The Artwoods, Rory Storm and John Mayall. In 2007, he published a ghostwritten autobiography titled Halfbreed (A Rock and Roll Journey That Happened Against All the Odds). The book covers Hartley’s upbringing and career, including his experience at Woodstock.


Jimmy Norman, dead at 74

Norman was an American R & B and jazz musician and songwriter. He is best known for being a songwriter, despite performing with Jimi Hendrix and releasing the charting single “I Don’t Love You No More (I Don’t Care About You).” He released a solo album in 1998. Following this release, he struggled with health and financial woes. With help from the Jazz Foundation of America, he stabilized himself and released his first wide-distribution album, Little Pieces, in 2004.


Ladi Geisler, dead at 83

Geisler was a Czech musician who made a name for himself in the music scene of post-war Germany. He is best known for working with German pop musicians, including James Last, Freddy Quinn and Bert Kaempfert. Geisler is credited with developing the “Knack-Bass” percussive bass sound that popularized the Kaempfert’s orchestra. He also released several solo records.


Christiane Legrand, dead at 81

Legrand, daughter of film composer Raymond Legrand and aunt to Beach Houses‘s Victoria Legrand, was a French jazz singer. She began studying classical music and piano at age four. Legrand was discovered in 1957 by jazz composer and critic AndrĂ© Hodeir. During the 1960s, she was the lead vocalist of notable French jazz groups, including Swingle Singers and Les Double Six.

 

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