Pulse Honors Lost Musicians of 2016 with Vinyl Tribute

I was honored to be asked to serve as DJ for the Pulse annual holiday party. After giving it some thought, I suggested we celebrate the musicians who died in 2016.

So many.

Prince, of course. David Bowie. Leon Russell. Sharon Jones. Bernie Worrell. Rudy Van Gelder. Kay Starr. Scotty Moore. Keith Emerson. Leonard Cohen. Mose Allison. Merle Haggard. Lonnie Mack. Sir George Martin (the 5th Beatle). Bobby Vee. Glenn Yarbrough. Toots Thielemans. Preston Hubbard. Bobby Hutcherson. Pete Fountain. Alan Vega. Marni Nixon. Ralph Stanley. Wayne Jackson. Dave Swarbrick. Candye Kane. Guy Clark. Harrison Calloway. Frank Sinatra, Jr. Gato Barbieri. Billy Paul. Andy “Thunderclap” Newman. Lennie Baker. Maurice White. Sonny James. Dan Hicks. Paul Kantner. Glenn Frey. Mic Gillette. Dale Griffin. Robert Stigwood.

coltraneAnd I didn’t mention everyone. Sorry. There were just too many. But in those named, a part of our musical history died with each of them. Of just those mentioned, I felt a personal connection with many, either having grown up with their music or researching and interviewing them.

Maybe some of the names are unfamiliar. Marni Nixon, for example, you may not know her name, but you have heard her voice. She was the queen of dubbing songs for stars, having ghosted the singing voice for many actresses (not always because they couldn’t carry a tune, but because Marni’s voice was perfect), including Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. A great and largely unknown voice.

And Rudy Van Gelder. Perhaps not a household name, but his impact on the jazz recording world is not measurable. I have been collecting his music for most of my adult life and now realize I will never come close to owning every recording Rudy Van Gelder touched in his long and fruitful life. Rudy left this mortal coil in August at the age of 91, after serving as sound engineer on thousands of jazz and blues records. He was there for John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. He was there for Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay. Horace Silver’s Song for My Father. Sonny Rollin’s Saxophone Colossus. Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music. Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter. Thelonious Monk. Modern Jazz Quartet. Jimmy Smith. Bobby Hutcherson (who also died this year). Lee Morgan. Rahsaan Roland Kirk. J.J. Johnson and Curtis Fuller. George Benson. Wes Montgomery. Paul Desmond. Joe Farrell. On and on. Rudy Van Gelder was a monster.

And Harrison Calloway. He was co-founder of and trumpet player for Muscle Shoals Horns, who made hundreds of recordings with an incredible array of bands and individuals. Everyone wanted the Muscle Shoal Horns behind them. B.B. King. Jim Capaldi. Bob Seger. Bob Dylan. Lyle Lovett. Dobie Gray. The Oak Ridge Boys. Jimmy Buffett.

leon-russellAnd Caroline Crawley. I first heard her angelic voice on a record I picked up at a used record store on Maui when I lived there back in the 1980s. The band (I hesitate to label it such) was called Shelleyan Orphan and that first record, Helleborine, continues to haunt me. So sorry to hear that Caroline left us in October.

Robert Stigwood served first as the manager of heavy rock trio Cream, and then the light-in-the-loafers pop of The Bee Gees. Preston Hubbard played bass in The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Paul Kantner was a mainstay of Jefferson Airplane, and on the very same day he died (Jan. 28, 2016), we also lost Signe Toly Anderson, who preceded Grace Slick as the female singer in Jefferson Airplane. Dave Swarbrick was the amazing fiddler in the great British folk/rock band Fairport Convention. Lennie Baker was a member of the 1950s band Danny and the Juniors (“At the Hop” was their big hit), and later in the exceedingly cheesy retro-rock band Sha Na-Na, but, hey, they were at Woodstock, so he is certainly deserving of a quick spin on the turntable in tribute to his passing.

I will be playing all of this and more at the Pulse holiday party at our office (currently under construction) in beautiful downtown Baileys Harbor, 4-7 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 21. Catering by JR Schoenfeld of Chives. Come on down!

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