Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door: Notable Deaths in April 2024

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We note with sadness the following contributors to rock and pop music of the 50s through the 80s – the BEST music ever made! – who passed on during April:

April 01
Michael Ward → Guitarist and co-founder of 90s alt rock School of Fish, co-wrote the group’s big hit “3 Strange Days” (Modern Rock #6, 1991), recruited by Jakob Dylan to join roots rock The Wallflowers, appeared on two albums and the Grammy-winning “One Headlight” (Mainstream Rock #1, 1997), also played with Ben Harper, John Hiatt and in sessions with various artists on over 50 albums over a 35 career ending with his death from complications of diabetes on 4/1/2024, age 57.

April 04
Keith Leblanc → Master percussionist whose career began in the late 70s as the drummer in the Sugar Hill Records house band, provided the rhythm underneath early hip hop superstars the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash, later recorded the first sampling record “No Sell Out” (1983) an played with industrial hip hop Tackhead, in the dub music collective On-U Sound, and in sessions for dozens of artists including R.E.M., Tina Turner and Nine Inch Nails, issued seven solo albums over 20 years through 2005, died from unspecified causes on 4/4/2024, age 69.

April 05
C. J. Snare / (Carl Jefferey Snare) → Founding member, frontman, lead singer, and co-songwriter for glam/pop metal FireHouse, co-wrote many of the bands songs, including power ballad “Love Of A Lifetime” (#5, AC #37, 1991) and three other Top 40 hits, fronted a side-project hard rock band Rubicon Cross and recorded several solo singles in the 00s, took a hiatus from FireHouse in late 2023 to undergo surgery for colon cancer, intended to return once fully recovered but died from cardiac arrest several months after the surgery on 4/5/2024, age 64.

April 07
Clarence “Frogman” Henry / (Clarence Henry II) → R&B/blues and soul singer with a trademark croak to his singing, best exemplified on his biggest hit, “Ain’t Got No Home” (#20, R&B #3, 1956), scored two other Top 20 hits, including “But I Do” (#4, R&B #9, 1961), opened for 18 Beatles concerts in the U.S. in 1964 and was married seven times with ten children, performed at various conventions in his native New Orleans through the 10s and was scheduled to appear at a jazz and blues festival a month after his death from complications following back surgery on 4/7/2024, age 87.

April 10
Dan Wallin / (Daniel Guy Wallin) → Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning sound engineer widely considered one of the greatest music scoring engineers of all time, mixed the sound on over 500 feature films between 1965 and the early 10s, including the Woodstock documentary (1970), A Star Is Born (1976), Saturday Night Fever (1977), and Seabiscuit (2003), died from undisclosed causes on 4/10/2024, age 97.

April 14
Ben Eldridge / (Benjamin Rolfe Eldridge) → Career applied mathematics professional in several corporations, moonlighted as a five string banjo player in early 70s bluegrass group Cliff Waldron and the New Shades of Grass, joined four others in 1971 to form seminal bluegrass band The Seldom Scene, played on all 22 albums by the band and was the sole original member upon retiring in 2016, died from natural causes on 4/14/2024, age 85.

April 15
Pooch Tavares / (Arthur Paul Tavares) → With four of his Cape Verdean-American brothers, vocals in R&B/funk-disco Tavares and eight Top 40 hits, including “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel” (#15, R&B #3, 1976) and “More Than A Woman” (#32, R&B #36) from the Grammy-winning soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever, suffered a stroke in 2014 and retired from the group after 55 years, died from unspecified causes on 4/15/2024, age 81.

April 18
Dickey Betts / (Forrest Richard Betts) → Singer, songwriter and, with Duane Allman, worthy co-lead guitarist for Southern rock The Allman Brothers Band, wrote the band’s only Top 20 hit “Ramblin’ Man” (#2, 1973) and the now classic “Blue Sky” (1972), later fronted Great Southern and the Dickey Betts Band, and issued fourteen albums with those groups and as a solo act, was voted Rolling Stone magazine Greatest Guitarist of All-Time #58, died from cancer and COPD at home on 4/18/2024, age 80.

April 24
Mike Pinder / (Michael Thomas Pinder) → Founding keyboardist and vocalist for Brit prog rock then pop-rock The Moody Blues (“Nights In White Satin,” #2, 1967), noted for introducing the electromechanical Mellotron to the group and leading the development of its place 60s rock music, particularly on seven Moody Blues albums from 1967 to 1972, left the group in 1978 after issuing a solo album, The Promise, in 1976, composed music for Atari computer games, issued a second solo album and two collections of children’s music in the 90s, reunited with the Moodies at their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018 and was the last surviving original member of the group at his death from lung failure on 4/24/2024, age 82.

April 30
Duane Eddy → The most commercially successful instrumental artist in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, self-taught and Grammy-winning electric guitar virtuoso, influential rockabilly star and “twangy” instrumental rocker with fifteen Top 40 hits between 1958 and 1963, including “Rebel Rouser” (#6, 1958), a 1986 remake of his 1960 version of “Peter Gunn” won the Grammy Award for best rock instrumental and charted for six weeks that year, toured into the 10s and performed on an 80th birthday tour of the UK in 2018, died from cancer on 4/30/2024, age 86.

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