Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door: Notable Deaths in April 2022

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We note with sadness the following contributors to rock and pop music from the 50s to the 80s – the BEST music ever made! – who passed away last month:

April 01
Bunny Diamond / (Fitzroy Ogilvie Matthews Simpson) → Co-founding member and vocals in Rastafarian-following, roots reggae Jamaican harmony trio Mighty Diamonds, the group released over 40 studio and live albums from its formation in 1969 and was a major force in driving roots reggae from the streets of Kingston to the international stage in the 70s with the classic reggae hits “Pass the Kouchie” (1981, banned in the UK) and “I Need a Roof” (1976), received the Jamaican national Order of Distinction award along with his groupmates in 2021, suffered from diabetes and was in declining health following a 2015 stroke, died in a Kingston hospital (three days after groupmate Tabby Diamond was killed in a drive-by shooting) on 4/1/2022, age 70.
C. W. McCall / (William Dale Fries Jr.) → Omaha-based advertising executive who turned a campaign for a regional bread company into a multi-platinum country music career as deep-voiced, alter-ego, semi-truck driver C. W. McCall and the improbable hit “Convoy” (#1, Country #1, 1972), the song fueled the Citizens Band (CB) radio craze in the 70s, adding “10-4” and “smokie” to the vernacular alongside eight studio albums and several other Country Top 40 hits, retired from ads and music in the 80s, served as mayor of his Colorado community and died from cancer on 4/1/2022, age 93.
Roland White / (Roland Joseph LeBlanc) → Highly-influential, virtuoso bluegrass mandolin player and vocalist, first with three brothers (including future Byrd Clarence) in late 50s The Country Boys (later renamed The Kentucky Colonels), joined Bill Monroe‘s backing band Blue Grass Boys in 1967 and Lester Flatt‘s Nashville Grass in 1969, suffered a dislocated shoulder in a 1973 automobile accident that killed Clarence, later played with numerous country and bluegrass bands until forming his own eponymous act in 2000, over his career issued two solo albums and appeared on dozens of albums as a bandleader, sideman or collaborator, his influence extended from country-rock in the 70s to progressive bluegrass (“newgrass”) of the 80s, continued to record, tour and teach mandolin until suffering a heart attack and dying several days later on 4/1/2022, age 83.

April 03
Jordan Mooney / (Pamela Anne Rooke) → English actress, model, shop clerk and key figure in the London punk scene in the 70s, wore audaciously hip outfits and became one of a small group generally credited with shaping punk culture and fashion of the time, worked in the boutique SEX on King’s Road where the owner created the iconic punk-rock band Sex Pistols as a promotional gimmick, managed and occasionally performed with post-punk Adam & the Ants and Wide Boy Awake, left London in the mid-80s and spent over thirty years breeding cats and nursing other animals until her death from bile duct cancer on 4/3/2022, age 66.

April 04
Joe Messina / (Joseph Lucian Messina) → High school drop-out whose dream of becoming a professional musician led through Detroit jazz clubs and a local ABC-TV studio orchestra to joining Motown Records in 1960 and becoming an integral part of the label’s in-house studio band The Funk Brothers, recorded pop music history on hundreds of hits laid down in the cramped basement recording studio named “the Snakepit” underneath a converted Detroit house known as “Hitsville USA,” earned the moniker “white brother with soul” and was featured prominently in the acclaimed 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, stayed in Detroit when the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972, owned several businesses and gigged with other musicians despite giving up his guitars for 30 years, suffered from kidney disease during his last dozen years and died on 4/4/2022, age 93.

April 05
Paul Siebel / (Paul Karl Siebe) → Greenwich Village 60s folk scene singer/songwriter and guitarist with a short-lived career, known solely for other artists’ cover versions of his songs, most notably “Louise” (1970), covered by Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt and nearly two dozen others, issued two critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums in the early 70s before dropping out of sight due to depression, drugs and stage fright, baked bread for a restatarant and worked in a county parks department until his death in hospice care from pulmonary fibrosis on 4/5/2022, age 84.
Bobby Rydell / (Robert Louis Ridarelli) → Teen idol pop singer with nineteen Top 40 hits in the pre-Beatles years, including the signature “Wild One” (#2, R&B #10, 1960), starred in the hit musical film Bye Bye Birdie (1963), enjoyed decades of relevance on the oldies circuit with fellow Philadelphia teen charmers Frankie Avalon and Fabian Forte, performing in nightclubs and Vegas stages as The Golden Boys, died from complications of pneumonia on 4/5/2022, age 79.

April 09
Chris Bailey / (Christopher James Mannix Bailey) → Kenya-born, Irish-blooded, Australian-immigrant, songwriter and frontman for trailblazing punk rock The Saints, their now-classic punk anthem “(I’m) Stranded” (AUS #98, 1977) introduced punk music Down Under and garnered significant attention in the burgeoning punk movements in the US and UK, predating by mere months debuts from bands like The Clash and The Ramones, left The Saints in 1991 to form the Chris Bailey Combo and released seven studio albums through 2005, died from undisclosed causes on 4/9/2022, age 65.

April 12
Charles McCormick / (Charles E. McCormick) → Founding member, songwriter and bass guitarist for high school doo wop group The Sinceres, which morphed into 70s-80s R&B/soul-funk Bloodstone and eight R&B Topo 20 hits, including “Natural High” (#10, R&B #4, 1973), wrote all of the music and co-starred in the film Train Ride To Hollywood (1975), performed as Bloodstone over the decades despite a dwindling number of original bandmates, died from undisclosed causes on 4/22/2022, age 75.

April 15
Art Rupe / (Arthur Newman Goldberg) → Founder of independent, innovative Specialty Records in 1945, focused on R&B, blues and gospel music by Black artists in the late 40s and became a key figure in the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll in the 50s by targeting young white audiences with hits by Lloyd Price (“Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” R&B #1, 1952), Guitar Slim (“The Things That I Used To Do,” R&B #1, 1953) and Little Richard (“Tutti Frutti,” #21, R&B #2, 1955), started a successful oil and gas investment business in the 60s but remained active in the management of Specialty and its publishing subsidiaries, sold the label to Fantasy Records in 1991 and oversaw his charitable foundation until his death from natural causes on 4/15/2022, age 104.

April 20
Guitar Shorty / (David William Kearney) → Electric blues guitarist with a slashing style and wild stage antics, including somersaults, flips and playing while standing on his head, toured with R&B and blues greats Ray Charles, B. B. King and others in his 20s, mentored Jimi Hendrix and introduced him to the wah-wah pedal in the early 60s, cut several unsuccessful singles and performed with Little Milton and T-Bone Walker among others, before leaving music for a time in the early 80s, returned in the 90s for a tour of Great Britain and future performances, issued 10 albums over the ensuing 30 years, including a final LP, Trying To Find My Way Back in 2019, died of natural causes on 4/20/2022, age 87.

April 21
Cynthia Plaster Caster / (Cynthia Dorothy Albritton) → Rock groupie and self-proclaimed “visual artist” known for making plaster casts of male rock stars’ erect genitalia, including Jimi Hendrix and members of MC5, Television, The Kinks, various road managers and other rock stars, continued to promote her collections until her death from a stroke (cerebrovascular disease) on 4/21/2022, age 71.

April 24
Andrew Woolfolk → R&B saxophonist best known for two stints with soul-dance-pop Earth, Wind & Fire in their 70s and 80s heydays (“Shining Star,” #1, 1975), afterwards collaborated with artists such as Deniece Williams, Stanley Turrentine, Phil Collins, Twennynine, Level 42 and EWF bandmate Philip Bailey, retired from music in the 00s, suffered a stroke and died several years later on 4/24/2022, age 71.

April 25
Susan Jacks / (Susan Elizabeth Pesklevits) → Canadian teenaged folk-pop singer on 60s national TV music variety shows, formed psych-pop quartet The Poppy Family in 1967 with then-husband Terry Jacks (“Seasons In The Sun,” Worldwide #1, 1974) and gained stardom with five Canada Top 10 hits, including “Which Way You Goin’, Billy?” (#2, CAN #1, 1969), divorced Jacks in 1973 and left the group for a successful solo and songwriting career, scoring ten Canada Top 10 Adult Contemporary singles and garnering numerous Juno nominations, discontinued performing except to raise donations for kidney charities after having a kidney transplant in 2005, died from renal-disease infections on 4/25/2022, age 73.
Jimmy “Popeye” Thomas / (James Thomas) → R&B/soul singer, songwriter and record label owner, joined Ike Turner‘s Kings of Rhythm backing band in 1958 and continued in The Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the 60s, issued several side singles on Turner‘s Sue label, relocated to England in 1969 in time to ride the Northern Soul revival wave and cut a future classic “The Beautiful Night” (UK, 1969), started his own Osceola Records in 1979 and sang backing vocals for multiple English acts over the next two decades, in later years suffered from a lung condition exacerbated by radiotherapy, issued a final solo album in 2021 and died from breathing difficulties on 4/25/2022, age 83.

April 26

Klaus Schulze → Highly-respected German electronic music composer and multi-instrumentalist with three early and influential “Krautrock” electro-synth groups, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and Cosmic Jokers, in the late 70s started a five-decade, 60-album solo career of evolving and innovative music supported by an aggressive annual touring schedule, retired from performing in 2010 but continued to compose music and release recordings, including a final album for July 2022 release, died after a long illness on 4/26/2022, age 74.


April 27
Judy Henske / (Judith Anne Henske) → The “Queen of the Beatniks,” late 50s and 60s versatile, witty Laurel Canyon then Greenwich Village folk-soul-blues singer, songwriter and one-time TV actress, worked with Lenny Bruce and the Whiskey Hill Singers along with ex-Kingston Trio member Dave Guard, recorded two solo albums on Elektra Records in the early 60s, married and recorded with folkie Jerry Yester, including the cult album Farewell Aldebaran (1969), disappeared in the early 70s but re-appeared in the 90s to record, perform and collaborate with multiple folk-pop artists over two decades, died in hospice care after a long, undisclosed illness on 4/27/2022, age 85.

April 30
Naomi Judd / (Diana Ellen Judd) → Country singer and songwriter in Grammy-winning, family vocal duo The Judds (with daughter Wynonna), the most successful mother-daughter team of all time), the pair scored fourteen Country #1 hits among twenty-one Country Top 20 singles, including “Girls’ Night Out” (Country #1, 1984), ceased performing in 1991 following a Hepatitis C diagnosis but recovered, over the ensuing two decades acted in TV sitcoms, hosted TV and radio talk shows and occasionally appeared with Wynonna in one-off performances, all the while suffering from mental illnesses, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the day before her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, 4/30/2022, age 76.

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