Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door: Notable Deaths In December 2022


December 05
Jim Stewart / (James Frank Stewart) → Former local banker and later part-time country music fiddler who co-founded Stax Records in Memphis with his sister, Estelle Axton, and presided over some of the top Southern soul and Memphis soul acts of the 60s and 70s, including house band Booker T. & The MG’s, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Staple Singers and many others, lost control of the business during bankruptcy proceeding in 1976 and lived a reclusive life until his death in a Memphis hospital following a brief illness on 12/5/2022, age 92.
Armand Morales / (Armando A. Morales) → Co-founder and bass vocals for mid-60s Southern gospel quartet The Imperials, the group became one of the most successful Contemporary Christian Music artists of all time, with 23 CMC singles and nearly 100 albums, including 11 with Elvis Presley in the 70s and 23 others as collaborations with multiple CMC and traditional gospel artists, managed the business affairs, toured and recorded with the group for 55 years and was the only original group member still active at his retirement in 2017, died from natural causes on 12/5/2022, age 90.

December 06
Jet Black / (Brian John Duffy) → Liquor store and home brewing equipment supply company owner who switched to punk-rock as co-founder and long-time drummer in influential The Stranglers, the band issued 23 UK Top 40 singles and 19 UK Top 40 albums over 45 years from 1977, including “Golden Brown” (UK #2, 1982) from the album La Folie (UK #11, 1981), suffered ill health for years and retired from the band in 2018, died at home on 12/6/2022, age 84.

December 09
2022 ● Herb Deutsch / (Herbert Arnold Deutsch) → Child prodigy musician who grew up to become a composer, music educator and, with engineer Robert Moog, co-creator of the of the groundbreaking Moog synthesizer in 1964, the first instrument to utilize transistor circuitry and open the boundaries of popular music, within a few short years the Moog found its way into recordings by The Doors, Grateful Dead and The Beatles (“Here Comes The Sun,” 1969), on the watershed album Switched On Bach (1968), in nearly every 70s prog-rock band and 80s synth-pop group, and in classical music, hip hop and beyond, spent many decades as an educator, first as a high school music teacher on Long Island, New York, and then for over 50 years at Hofstra University, where he was professor emeritus of electronic music and had two gigs as chair of the music department, died at home from heart failure on 12/9/2022, age 90.

December 10
J. J. Barnes / (James Jay Barnes) → R&B singer and songwriter with several minor singles in the early 60s before joining Motown Records for a short stint as a writer, then with R&B soul trio The Holidays (“I’ll Love You Forever,” R&B #7, 1966), co-written with bandmate Edwin Starr, and the solo hit “Baby Please Come Back Home” (R&B #9, 1967), relocated to England in 70s and enjoyed a modest second career on the Northern Soul circuit in the UK in the 80s, died from undisclosed causes on 12/10/2022, age 79.

December 13
Kim Simmonds / (Kim Maiden Simmonds) → Co-founder and only constant member of seminal Brit blues-rock Savoy Brown since formation in 1965, toiled for over 50 years but never enjoyed a hit record in the UK or US, the band’s best known single is the classic rock playlist staple “Tell Mama” (83, 1971) and only two of their 40-plus LPs broke the Billboard Album Top 40, steadfastly kept focused on the blues and many variations while presiding over an everchanging lineup of support musicians, died in Upstate New York hospital from colon cancer on 12/13/2022, age 75.

December 15
Dino Danelli → Jazz-focused drummer who switched to pop-rock as a co-founder and vocalist for New York blue-eyed soul The Rascals (early on The Young Rascals), performed on all thirteen of the band’s late 60s Top 40 hits, including “Groovin”” (#1, 1967) and “People Got To Be Free: (#1, 1968) before leaving to form short-lived pop-rock Bulldog in the mid-70s, then power pop Fotomaker, “Miles Away” (#63, 1978) in 1978 and Steven Van Zandt’s side project, Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul in the 80s, joined his bandmates for one-off reunions in the late 80s, toured as The New Rascals in the 90s and appeared in the 2012 Van Zandt-produced multi-media “bioconcert” show The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream, died from in a rehabilitation center in New York from coronary artery disease on 12/15/2022, age 78.
Shirley Eikhard / (Shirley Rose Eikhard) → Canadian singer and songwriter with a modestly successful recording career in Canada, her eponymous debut album (CAN #58, 1972) was the only one of fifteen releases to chart, far better known internationally as a country-folk-pop songwriter with over 500 compositions, a slew of which were recorded by Emmylou Harris, Rita Coolidge, Cher, Anne Murray and, most famously, Bonnie Raitt, whose interpretation of “Something To Talk About” (#5, CAN #3, 1991) earned a Grammy Award, toured and performed sporadically after the 80s due to health issues, but released nine albums in the 2000s, the last, On My Way To You (2021), came just before her death from cancer on 12/15/2022, age 67.
Bertha Barbee-McNeal / (Bertha Louise Barbee) → Family singing veteran and co-founder of college girl group The Velvettes, signed to Motown Records in 1962 and released four minor charting singles in the mid-60s, including their biggest hit “Needle In A Haystack” (#45, R&B #31, 1964), left the group in 1967 to raise a family and earn a graduate degree in music education, taught music in Michigan public schools for decades while participating in several Velvettes reunions and Motown special projects through the 00s, died from colon cancer on 12/15/2022, age 82.

December 16
Charlie Gracie / (Charles Anthony Graci) → Rockabilly and pop-rock guitarist and songwriter, Philadelphia’s first rock ‘n roll star and an American Bandstand regular with several charting singles in the late 50s, including the megahit “Butterfly” (#1, 1957), influenced younger rockers Paul McCartney, Van Morrison and Graham Nash in the 60s, performed in nightclubs, on the oldies circuit, and on occasional tours over the decades, including over 40 trips to a devoted following in the UK, died from complications of the COVID-19 virus on 12/16/2022, age 86.
Rick Anderson → Bass guitarist for Phoenix-based rock band The Beans in the late 60s, becoming the nucleus of camp-rock pop-rock satirists The Tubes in 1972, over a 50 year career played on all nine albums and ten charting singles by the band, including “She’s A Beauty” (#10, 1983), performed on tour with The Tubes for decades, the last time in Los Angeles just months before dying from undisclosed on 12/16/2022, age 75.

December 18
Terry Hall / (Terence Edward Hall) → Frontman and lead vocals for ska revival/punk rock The Specials, the multi-racial (“2-tone”) band scored seven straight UK Top 10 hits from “Gangsters” (UK #6) in 1979 to “Ghost Town” (UK #1) in 1981 with their gritty, energetic, socially-conscious messages about modern UK society, left in 1982 to form New Wave pop Fun Boy Three (“Really Saying Something,” Club #16, UK #5, 1982) and shortly after pop-rock The Colourfield (“Thinking Of You,” UK #12, 1985), participated in various bands and collaborations through the 00s, rejoined his Specials bandmates for touring in 2008 and two new albums in 2019 and 2021, with a COVID-delayed reggae album in the works when he died from pancreatic cancer on 12/18/2022, age 63.
Martin Duffy / (Martin Bernard Duffy) → Teenaged keyboard player with Brit jangle rock Felt for seven albums and six UK Top 20 singles in the late 80s, including “Primitive Painters” (UK #1, 1985), moonlighted on two Primal Scream albums before joining the group full-time during the sessions for the LP Screamadelica (US #131, UK #8, 1991), played with Primal Scream for the ensuing 30 years and eight albums, gigged with indie rock The Charlatans when keyboardist Robert Collins died suddenly in 1996, performed with other bands and appeared on several other artists’ albums, fell at hom and suffered a brain injury which caused his death on 12/18/2022, age 55.

December 21
Harvey “Burley” Jett / (William Harvey Jett) → Original lead guitarist for early 70s Southern raunch-rock Black Oak Arkansas, played in the band’s vaunted twin-guitar attack alongside Stanley “Goober Grin” Knight through their first seven albums and lone hit, “Jim Dandy To The Rescue” (#25, 1974), left in 1974 for religious reasons and lived out of the limelight until his death from undisclosed on 12/21/2022, age 73.

December 22
Thom Bell / (Thomas Randolph Bell) → Classically-trained Jamaican-American musician and key architect of the smooth “Philly Soul” sound of the ’70s as a writer and producer multiple acts, including The Delfonics (“Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),” #10, R&B #3, 1970), The Spinners (“I’ll Be Around,” #3, R&B #1, 1972) and The Stylistics (“You Make Me Feel Brand New,” #2, R&B #5, 1973), and as one-third of the acclaimed Mighty Three Music publishing team alongside Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the team fed hit after hit to Philadelphia International Records which the trio had co-founded in 1971, continued to work with top acts in the later 70s, including Dionne Warwick and Deniece Williams, and for The Temptations and Dee Dee Bridgewater and others in the 80s, retired from the music industry in the 90s and died after a lengthy illness on 12/22/2022, age 79.

December 29
Ian Tyson / (Ian Dawson Tyson) → Canadian singer and guitarist in influential male/female folk harmony vocal duo Ian & Sylvia with then-wife Sylvia Fricker from 1961 to 1974, their minor but enduring folk hits “Four Strong Winds” (CAN Top 10, 1965). “Early Morning Rain” (CAN #1, 1965) and the Flicker-composition “You Were On My Mind” (CAN #4, 1972) led to thirteen albums, seven of which charted in the US, and his hosting a nationally broadcast music variety program on CTV, divorced in 1975 but continued in a hugely successful country-rock solo career in Canada with nearly 30 charting singles and several acclaimed albums while ranching in southern Alberta, suffered a heart attack and had open heart surgery in 2015, then died on the ranch from undisclosed causes on 12/29/2022, age 89.

December 30
Don Williams / (Donald J. Williams) → With older brother Bob and younger brothers Dick and Andy in sibling pop vocal quartet The Williams Brothers, performed on the radio in the 30s, in musical films in the 40s, with Bing Crosby on “Swinging On A Star” (#1, 1944) and in nightclubs and on tour until split-up in 1951, reunited for annual appearances on the music variety TV show The Andy Williams Christmas Special from 1962 to 1990, died of natural causes on 12/30/2022, age 100.

December 31
Anita Pointer / (Anita Marie Pointer) → Founding member and frequent lead singer in R&B/soul-pop-disco-dance sibling act The Pointer Sisters, sang lead on the break-out hit “Yes We Can Can” (#11, R&B #12, 1973), on the sultry “Fire” (#2, R&B #14, 1978) and on their biggest single “Slow Hand” (#2, R&B #7, 1981), issued a solo album and two minor charting singles in 1987-88, and an improbable crossover hit with country music star Earl Thomas Conley, “Too Many Times” (Country #2, 1986), continued to tour with the group until retiring in 2015 for health reasons, died at home from cancer on 12/31/2022, age 74.


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