EXPIRED: 12/28/11 – Danny DeGennaro, 56, also known as Danny Rio, seemed to have returned to his Bucks County, Pennsylvania, home only to confront a burglar. He was shot and left for dead.
DeGennaro, who fronted the Philly-based Danny DeGennaro Band, is best known for being a guitarist and singer for Kingfish, a band that included former Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir among its early members. Although the two were never in the band at the same time, they certainly shared an audience and gave DeGennaro great networking opportunities he used throughout his career.
That career included performing with Bo Diddley, Billy Squier, Clarence Clemons and some of Philadelphia’s great blues artists including T.J. Tindall and Parliament Funkadelic’s Michael Hampton.
DeGennaro last played with Kingfish in 2010 on their Live and Kicking tour.
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.
EXPIRED: 04/14/10 – Mississippi Slim, 66, was born as Walter Horn Jr. in Shelby, Mississippi and grew up in the town of Greenville where he looked forward to pursuing a career as a tractor driver, a job he started in the early 1960s.
But a job like that can give a young man the blues. And when a young man gets the blues a young man sings the blues. And if you’re a skinny young man from Mississippi singing the blues, someone is bound to call you Mississippi Slim.
EXPIRED: 03/23/10 – Marva Wright, 62, was a New Orleans soul singer who was never very far from home when she belted out the blues stages of small clubs on Bourbon Street in the Latin Quarter of New Orleans.
She dropped out of college in Baton Rouge after just two years to marry her first husband and never much gave any mind to singing except while in church. She was too busy raising a family and working as a secretary. But later on, when the kids were grown, she tinkered with the idea a bit.
EXPIRED: o2/14/10 – Lil’ Dave Thompson, 40, a blues guitarist who had just finished performing the last show of his tour was killed in an auto accident outside of Augusta, Georgia while he and his band were returning home to Greenville, Mississippi from Charleston, South Carolina.
None of Thompson’s band members were seriously hurt in the accident.
Thompson was born in Mississippi in 1969 into a blues family, his father Sam having performed alongside artists like Asie Payton, Willie Foster, and Paul Wine Jones. He began playing guitar at the 9 years old, and was playing in local bands by his early teens. The Fat Possum label released his recording debut in 1995 when it released Little Dave and Big Love.
RIP – Freddy Robinson, 70, was 9 when he saw his 1st blues band in Memphis. He emulated them by plucking wire attached to a barn wall. When he was 13 he saved some money and bought a real guitar, his second, from a Sears catalog. He called it Bessie, and he played that guitar his entire life.
EXPIRED: 08/31/09 – Jesse Fortune, 79, sang with the best & could have been huge in Blues, but instead he was a barber. He once rejected an opportunity to tour Europe ‘cause he didn’t want to disappoint his regular customers.