Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door: Notable Deaths in July 2023


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

July 03
Mo Foster / (Michael Ralph Foster) → English multi-instrumentalist member of early jazz-rock Affinity from 1968 to 1970, then performed as a session musician on several hundreds of albums by Jeff Beck, Sheena Easton, Meat Loaf and many others, and toured in bands supporting Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Van Morrison and others over a 40+ year career, along the way released five albums of his own music, produced albums and singles for others, wrote commercial jingles and composed music for various artists, authored an anecdotal history of rock guitarists in the UK titled Seventeen Watts? (Play Like Elvis in the US) and remained an active performer and producer until dying from liver and bile duct cancer on 7/3/2023, age 78.

July 05
George Tickner / (George Tyndall Tickner) → Member of San Francisco psych-rock Frumious Bandersnatch in the 60s, performed with Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders in the early 70s, then in 1973 co-founded hard rock/arena rock Journey, played rhythm guitar and co-wrote several songs on their first three albums, left in 1975 to attend Stanford Medical School on a full scholarship, practiced medicine in the Bay Area but remained active in various Journey side projects and spin-off groups into the 00s, died from undisclosed causes on 7/5/2023, age 76.

July 11
Sam Cutler / (Brendan Lawrence Lyons) → Emcee and tour manager for Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd and others in the 60s, including The Rolling Stones and was the first to use the term “The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World” to open their shows, guided the group on their American tour in 1969, which ended at the infamous Altamont Free Concert where the Hell’s Angels “security team” stabbed a young man to death in front of the stage, managed tours for Grateful Dead for five years thereafter, retired to Australia in the 90s and published an autobiography in 2008, You Can’t Always Get What You Want: My Life with the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and Other Wonderful Reprobates, died from cancer on 7/11/2023, age 80.

July 16
Jane Birkin / (Jane Malorry Birkin) → English-born ingénue, film actress and pop singer, appeared in minor roles in several 60s French films, then started a 12-year romantic and musical partnership with actor/director Serge Gainsbourg, including their steamy, spoken-word duet “Je T’Aime…Moi Non Plus” (#69, UK #1, 1970), left Gainsbourg in 1980 to resume acting career and issue solo albums through 2020, appeared in over 30 French films through 2021, in the 80s lent her name to the distinctive and sought-after Birkin handbag by fashion designer/retailer Hermès, suffered a stroke in 2021 during a years-long battle with cancer and died at home from the disease on 7/16/2023, age 76.

July 17
Jerry Bradley / (Jerry Owen Bradley) → Country music executive best known for running RCA Nashville from 1973 to 1982 and reshaping the industry through producing and promoting the new “outlaw country” sub-genre of grittier, non-traditional country music epitomized by the compilation album Wanted! The Outlaws (Country #1, 1976) by Willie Nelson, Jesse Colter, Waylon Jennings and Tompall Glaser, left RCA in 1982 and led Opryland Music Group until retiring in 2013, in 1972 help found the annual Fun Fair in Nashville (CMA Music Festival since 2004) and served as president of the Country Music Association (CMA) Board in 1975, inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2019 and died from unspecified causes on 7/17/2023, age 83.

July 21
Tony Bennett / (Anthony Dominic Benedetto) → Beloved fourteen-time Grammy-winning pop and easy listening crooner with the enduring, signature song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” (#19, 1962) and eight other Top 40 singles plus four other Adult Contemporary Top 10 hits, his long career started in the Paramount Theater in New York City in the early 1950s and ran for over 70 years, including hundreds of recordings of songs from the Great American Songbook and a final public appearance with pop singer Lady Gaga at Radio City Music Hall in a show titled One Last Time in 2021, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in his last years and died from undisclosed causes on 7/21/2023, age 96.

July 22
Vince Hill / (Vincent Hill) → English traditional pop musician and singer with the hit cover version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s show tune “Edelweiss” (UK #1, 1967) and eight other UK Top 10 hits in the 60s Beatlemania era, recorded 25 studio albums and several soundtracks, wrote theatrical plays and hosted TV shows during the 1970s and 1980s, suffered health issues in the 00s but returned to the stage in the late 00s and 10s, died at home from undisclosed causes on 7/22/2023, age 89.

July 23
Raymond “Froggy” Froggatt / (Raymond William Froggatt) → English musician and songwriter who achieved minimal commercial acclaim on his own over seven decades of work but provided hits for 60s Britbeat bands Dave Clark Five with “The Red Balloon” (UK #7, 1968) and Cliff Richard’s “The Ship” (UK #8, 1969), released nearly 40 albums of solo work and as frontman for his own country-rock bands through 2018, died following a short, unspecified illness on 7/23/2023, age 81.
Edward Sexton → Teenaged waiter at the Waldorf hotel in London’s West End, served patrons dressed for the opera and parlayed the experience into a long career as a Saville Row tailor designing custom suits and sophisticated stage-wear for rock royalty, from Mick Jagger to Eric Clapton and The Beatles (for the Abbey Road cover), later designed costumes for Broadway shows and top-end clothing chains, died from undisclosed causes on 7/26/2023, age 80.

July 24
Brad Houser / (John Bradley Houser) → Co-founder of the predecessor group to folk-pop Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians (“What I Am,” #7, CAN #1, 1989) and played bass with the band until the early 90s, then co-founded jazz-rock instrumental group Critters Buggin and played in various Austin, Texas bands in the 00s, co-designed a series of instruments for Reverend Guitars and taught music in local schools until suffering a stroke and dying a week later on 7/24/2023, age 62.

July 26
Randy Meisner / (Randall Herman Meisner) → Original bassist and backing vocalist in country-rock Poco in 1968, left to join Rick Nelson‘s Stone Canyon Band in 1969 and did session work in the early 70s for Linda Ronstadt and backed her on tour until 1972 when his bandmates formed hugely successful country-rock Eagles, co-wrote and sang their early hit “Take It To The Limit” (#4, 1977), left in 1977 for solo career with five studio albums and the single “Hearts On Fire” (#19, 1981), participated in several Poco and Eagles reunions and gigged with others bands for 40 years, died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on 7/26/2023, age 77.
Sinéad O’Connor / (Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor) → Irish-born controversial folk-pop singer and songwriter with the early career international hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Worldwide #1, 1990), her music career stalled after a 1992 appearance on US TV’s Saturday Night Live during which she tore a picture of then Pope John Paul II to protest child abuse in the Catholic church, continued perform, record, participate in several collaborations with other musicians, and highlight human rights, racism, organized religion, and women’s rights issues for the ensuing decades until her death at home from undisclosed causes on 7/26/2023, age 56.


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