RIP – HOWARD TATE


EXPIRED: 12/02/11 – Howard Tate, 72, had been thru a lot. There were 3 top 20 hits, a crack addiction, homelessness and a false death report. Then a comeback.

“When you love somebody, you’re taking a chance on sorrow / Who knows, baby, we may not, may not be here tomorrow / Get it while you can.”

His song “Get It While You Can” was a minor hit for him, but a huge milestone for Janis Joplin when she recorded it years later. Despite the success of the song, Tate never made much money from his recordings. Back then black artists didn’t make much – they had no protection – and money just disappeared amongst shift managers, promoters and record companies.

So he was forced to walk away from the music business in the 1970s and got a job selling insurance. Tragedy struck his family a few years afterwards when his 13-year-old daughter died in a house fire. Then his marriage fell apart, he lost his home and he turned to cocaine, scrambling all over southern New Jersey looking for odd jobs to support his habit.

But in 2008 he had a comeback, with an album called “Blue Day.” And although it was short lived, it might be some of the most heartfelt blues you will ever hear. He oozes the blues.

Rest in peace, brother.

READ THE OBIT

Advertisements

RIP – SIR JIMMY SAVILE


EXPIRED: 10/29/11 – Sir Jimmy Savile, 84, was the first disc jockey who ever used two turntables and a microphone. He did this at the Grand Records Ball at the Guardbridge Hotel in 1947. It was supposedly the first ball that had continuous music.

In the mid 50’s he ran the Palais, a dance hall in Ilford, Essex, where his Monday evening records-only dance sessions (admission one shilling) were a huge hit with local teens, By the 60s he was hosting the TV music program Young at Heart. And although the show was broadcast in black and white, Savile dyed his hair a different color every week.

In doing so he had his finger on the pulse of Britains youth culture an became the first, and final, host of the popuale BBC pop chart show, Top Of The Pops. Savile debuted Top of the Pops on New Year’s Day 1964, and although he was replaced, he returned in 2006 to host the final installment, ending the show with the words “It’s number one, it’s still Top of the Pops.

He was also host of his own human interest show,  Jim’ll Fix It.

Smart but eccentric, Savile was a member of Mensa, but was better known for his yodel, his track suit and gold chains, his cockney catchphrases (“How’s about that, then?”, “as it ‘appens”) and his incessant cigar smoking. He lived with his mother,”The Duchess” and had her clothes dry cleaned every year – even after she died.

He died in October 2011, two days short of his 85th birthday.

READ THE OBIT

RIP – T. MAX GRAHAM


EXPIRED: 10/27/11 – T. Max Graham, 70, was a Hollywood actor who shunned Hollywood. His acting career began in San Francisco under his real name, Neil Moran, with “Angel Unchained,” the same biker flick that started Tyne Daly’s career. Then he got a bit part in the TV cop show “Adam-12”. Next up he played the factory owner in David Lynch’s cult classic Eraserhead. But then it took an even weirder turn where he played a cop who arrested a stripper played by Vanna White in “Gypsy Angels” and Jackie Gleason’s bartender in “Sting II” and in a bit part in “Cosby.”

After realizing he would always be a small fish in a big pond, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri and became a big fish in a small pond. His local theatre work there made him a star. And when big Hollywood productions came through to film this or that, he was nearly always cast. For example, he played the always hungry preacher in Ang Lee’s “Ride with the Devil” and the character of Jake in a bizarre little movie called “Bonnie & Clyde vs Dracula”.

But he was very tuned into his adopted home of Kansas City where he was such a local draw that just having him cast in a play would sell out shows at the New Theatre, Tiffany’s Attic and the Waldo Astoria.

READ THE OBIT

RIP – THEE RAM JAM


EXPIRED: 10/15/11 – Thee Ram Jam, 48, was possibly the best funk bassist in the world. But you never heard of him and probably never will.

That’s because his real name was Theron Brison, and his day job was as a drug abuse counsellor in California.

But after work Brison put on a spacey horned mask and played some of the funkiest bass guitar you’d ever hope to hear.

Bootsy Collins was such a fan that he signed Brison, whose stage name was Thee Ram Jam, to his production company, Bootzilla Productions. Collins also hired him as a “professor” at Bootsy Collins’ Funk University, an online music school.

But it wasn’t the music biz that killed him, he was stabbed at work. A co-worker was originally arrested but the released.

Until the killer is found, we at least have Thee Ram Jam.

READ THE OBIT

RIP – CHUCK RUFF


EXPIRED: 10/05/11 – Chuck Ruff, 60, played drums in the rock group Sawbuck with Ronnie Montrose from 1968–1970. Ruff and Montrose were later recruited by Dan Hartman to form The Edgar Winter Group in 1972. Success was immediate, with their first album.  Released in 1973, They Only Come Out at Night peaked at the number 3 position on the Billboard Hot 200 and stayed on the charts for an impressive 80 weeks. The single, an instrumental called “Frankenstein,” reached No. 1 with the follow-up single “Free Ride”, peaking at No. 14.  Both songs are still heard today on variousTV ads and movie soundtracks.

Their next album, Shock Treatment, replaced Montrose with guitar hero Rick Derringer and featured the moderate hit “Easy Street”. Ruff survived various lineup changes through three more albums: Jasmine Nightdreams in ’75, and The Edgar Winter Group With Rick Derringer and  Johnny and Edgar Winter Live, both released in ’76.

In 1977, Ruff drummed with Sammy Hagar on the singer’s albums Street Machine and Danger Zone, and helped 20 year old Seattle guitarist Adam Bomb start his career by providing the backbeat for his debut.

In the 90s, he retired to Reno, Nevada to start the Chuck Ruff Group and his last project, Geezersläw. He died in San Francisco after a surgery and a subsequent coma.

READ THE OBIT

RIP – WINSTONE ZULU


EXPIRED: 10/12/11 – Winstone Zulu, 47, was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and, knowing how the community treated locals with HIV, decided to meet it head on. So facing an announcement that would undoubtedly make him an outcast in his country, he became an HIV activist, the first in Zambia.

Unfortunately, Zulu had setbacks. He waited till about 1996 to take an antiretroviral treatment and contracted tuberculosis a year later, as well as polio.  But the TB treatment was effective and he later strived to get other HIV activists and health care providers to champion the need to address the correlation between HIV & TB.

Zulu then met his biggest challenge. He started to believe that perhaps HIV did not cause AIDS to begin with. So in 2000 he stopped taking HIV medication altogether. That last two years. When a sharp decline in his CD4 cell count left him once again seriously ill, Zulu went back for treatment.

In 2004, Nelson Mandela praised Zulu as a pioneer of TB activism at the 2004 World AIDS Conference. In 2006 he was awarded the Stop TB Partnership Kochon prize. But his biggest award was the pride he had in knowing he created a vital link between HIV and TB activists, which in turned continues to help save many lives in Africa.

READ THE OBIT

RIP – MARV TARPLIN


EXPIRED: 09/30/11 – Marv Tarplin, 70, was just a teenage from Detroit, Michigan who played guitar for a local all-girl vocal group known as The Primettes, who got an audition with Motown. They played for Smokey Robinson, lead singer of the Miracles. Robinson loved the Primettes, and suggested they change their name to The Supremes, but he loved Tarplin more and stole him away from the girls.

Smokey referred to Tarplin as The Miracles’ “secret weapon.” As a songwriter, Tarplin co-composed many of the Miracles’ hit singles, including the million-selling Grammy Hall of Fame winner “The Tracks of My Tears” for which he received the ASCAP Award Of Merit  in 1965. Other hits were “My Girl Has Gone,” “I Like It Like That,” “Going to a Go-Go,” and “The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage.

He also co-wrote Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “I’ll Be Doggone,” and “One More Heartache.”

Tarplin left the Miracles in 1973, shortly after Smokey Robinson went solo, and continued to collaborate with his old boss on

Robinson and Tarplin continued to collaborate as writers on Robinson’s solo recordings, including “Cruisin'” and “Being with You.”

In 1987, Smokey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. The Miracles met the qualifications, as did Robinson, but the band have not, to date, been inducted.

Tarplin retired from touring in 2008.

READ THE OBIT