RIP – BRIDIE GALLAGHER


EXPIRED: 01/09/12 – Bridie Gallagher, 87,  was Ireland’s 1st international pop star.

In Belfast she shot to fame in 1956 with a recording of “A Mother’s Love’s A Blessing” and found global adulation with her rendition of “The Boys From County Armagh” and “The Homes of Donegal.”

While her career lasted over 60 years, there were some low moments. In 1976 her 21-year old son was killed in a motorcycle accident. That same year she released her last single, “Just Like Your Daddy.” Still, she kept on performing.

Known as “The Girl from Donegal,” Gallagher holds the record for the largest number of people in attendance in London’s Royal Albert Hall, a record that can never be topped now that it’s an all-seating venue.

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RIP – TOM ARDOLINO


EXPIRED: 01/06/12  – Tom Ardolino, 57, was an amateur drummer and fan of the band NRBQ, who after trading tapes with co-founder Terry Adams and establishing a rapport with the singer, found himself called up onstage at a sow when drummer Tom Staley skipped out on an encore. When Staley quit NRBQ in 1974, Ardolino took over.

He stayed in the band until it disbanded in 2004 so Adams could get treatment for throat cancer.

The freedom left Ardolino room to do some solo work and he released “Unknown Brain.” The album consisted mostly of 30 year old basement recordings made before he was in NRBQ. The cover states “WARNING: If out-of-tuneness bothers you, do not listen.”

Earlier this year Adams decided to put NRBQ back together with a new album and tour. Although Ardolino wasnt part of the line-up, he was very supportive of the reunion. He was always a fan after all, even before he was a member.

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RIP – BOB WESTON


EXPIRED: 01/03/12  – Bob Weston, 64, got his big break when drummer Mick Fleetwood called him up and asked if he was available to replace Fleetwood Mac’s alcoholic and despised lead  guitarist Danny Kirwan. Weston knew just how big the job was going to be when Kirwan phoned him shortly thereafter and sarcastically said “Good Luck. You’re gonna need it.”

With Weston at the helm, Fleetwood Mac recorded the Penguin album in January 1973, followed by  Mystery to Me released the same year. Things were going great, but then while on tour Mick Fleetwood discovered that Weston had been having an affair with Mick Fleetwood’s wife, Jenny Boyd. Weston was fired and the tour was secretly cancelled. The rest of the band all went their separate ways to get away.

The band’s manager, afraid of losing profits, hastily put together a fake Fleetwood Mac to fulfill the booked tour dates.

Guitarist and lead singer Bob Welch was so disenchanted that he too left the band – making way for  Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to join – creating the line-up so beloved today.

Weston carried on as a solo artist and session musician in London, having played with Long John Baldry and Murray Head. In fact he was due to record with ex-Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor this week. When he didn’t show up to the recording sessions, family went round to his flat and found he had died in his sleep.

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RIP – ROBERT DICKEY


EXPIRED: 12/29/11 – Robert Dickey, 72, was half of the singing duo James & Bobby Purify, along with cousin James. Once signed to a record label in 1966, they immediately had a hit with “I’m Your Puppet”, which spent 14 weeks in the U.S. chart and sold an over a million copies.

Although “I’m Your Puppet” was their biggest hit, they had hit the Hot 100 throughout the decade with “Shake a Tail Feather” and “Let Love Come Between Us.”

Dickey quit the music business in 1971 and moved to his hometown of Tallahassee, where he worked as a city maintenance supervisor.

He HATED “I’m Your Puppet.”

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RIP – JAMES RIZZI


EXPIRED: 12/26/11  – James Rizzi, 61, was one of the most fun pop artists of all time. You couldn’t help but smile at his playful paintings and childlike 3D sculptures.

Born in Brooklyn, Rizzi studied at the University of Florida. But in 1974 he returned to NYC and took a studio in SoHo – back before it became a shopping mall and could actually house struggling artists. And struggling he was. At age 24 Rizzi was a renegade street artist.

Known for his bright, cartoon-like drawings he gained fans quickly. In 1981 he was commissioned by Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth to create the album cover for their first release as Tom Tom Club. It was so popular, they also asked him to create the video for their first single Genius of Love.

In 1996 Lufthansa commissioned him to decorate a jet with pastel stars, birds and travelers. In 2011, he created the BamBoo, an electric-powered concept car with an inflatable roof for automaker Rinspeed. Needless to say, Rizzi was loved around the world, especially in Germany, where a school in Duisburg was named for him.

He died in his sleep in the same studio he has been living and working in for decades.

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RIP – CHEETAH


EXPIRED: 12/24/11  – Cheetah, 80, was “discovered” by an animal trainer on a trip to Liberia in 1932. The chimpanzee ended up in Hollywood with a 30 year film career, mostly in Tarzan movies, playing himself, stealing scenes from Olympic-medal-winner-turned-actor Johnny Weissmuller, who played the Apeman.

Cheetah died of kidney failure on Christmas Eve at The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbour, Florida, where he lived for over 60 years. In his final days he enjoyed spending time finger painting – his art has sold at auction for upwards of $2,000 apiece.

Despite his fondness for booze and cigars, vices he had to give up upon retirement, Cheetah was not a temperamental actor. Still, he wasn’t above hurling poop (his own) at anyone who caused him grief.

Captive chimps typically live about 35 years. Cheetah, at 80, holds the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest non-human primate. He even outlived both Tarzan co-stars, Weissmuller and actress Maureen O’Sullivan, who played Jane. O’Sullivan referred to Cheetah as ‘that bastard.” Despite his fondness for booze and cigars, vices he had to give up upon retirement, Cheetah was not a temperamental actor. Still, he wasn’t above hurling poop (his own) at anyone who caused him grief. Supposedly, his aim was pretty good. I’m assuming O’Sullivan was probably a regular target.

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RIP – CESARIA EVORA


EXPIRED: 12/17/11 – Cesaria Evora, 70, was 10 years old when she was given to an orphanage in the Cape Verde Islands, off of West Africa. At 16, she started singing in a tavern popular with sailors. She was also rowed out to anchored ships to sing for those who couldn’t make it to land.

There was no pay – just free drinks. And she drank – cognac – lots of it.  Known as the “Barefoot Diva” because she always performed without shoes, she sang “morna,” the traditional music of the region. She mostly sang in the version of creole spoken there, but even those who couldn’t understand the lyrics were moved by her voice.

In 1988 she recorded “La Diva Aux Pieds Nus” (“Barefoot Diva”), which launched  her international career. Then in 1995, her album “Cesaria” brought her first Grammy nomination, and an international tour.

But it was in 2003, 54 years after she started singing in local bars for booze, that she won a Grammy in World Music category for her album “Voz D’Amor.”

This past September she retired due to health problems. Retirement didn’t last long.

 

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