Knockin’ On Heavens Door: Notable Deaths in June 2021

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

June 07
David Lewis / (David Cutler Lewis) → Keyboardist with pop-rock Ambrosia from 1978 to 1982, contributed to three of the band’s studio albums and two of their biggest hits, “Biggest Part of Me” (#3, 1980) and “You’re the Only Woman (You & I),” (#13, 1980), left to join electro-pop/New Age Shadowfax from 1984 to 1990, winning a Best New Age Performance with the group for the 1988 album Folksongs for a Nuclear Village, rejoined Ambrosia for a few years during the early 2000s, died from brain cancer on 7/7/2021, age unknown.

June 08
Dean Parrish / ( Philip Joseph Anastasi) → Blue-eyed, pop-soul singer mostly ignored in his US homeland but revered in the UK where his “I’m On My Way” (UK #38, 1975) became an anthem during the 70s Northern Soul boom, continued to record sporadically and work sessions through the decades while performing in multiple pop-soul revival and oldies concerts around the UK through to his death from undisclosed causes on 6/8/2021, age 79.

June 23
Ellen McIlwaine / (Frances Ellen McIlwaine) → Singer, songwriter and guitarist in the early 60s folk revival scene in New York’s Greenwich Village, at one point playing with a fledgling Jimi Hendrix and reputedly discussing a recording and touring partnership with him, later formed Atlanta-based psychedelic-pop Fear Itself and issued two largely unnoticed albums, resumed her solo career in the 70s with country-pop and blues-folk played on slide guitar, toured and recorded alone and in various collaborative projects for four decades before dying from esophageal cancer on 6/23/2021, age 75.

June 26
Johnny Solinger / (John Preston Solinger) → Frontman for an 80s-90s eponymous Texas hard rock band, hired in 1999 as lead vocalist to replace founding member Sebastian Bach in New Jersey-based hair metal/pop-metal Skid Row (“I Remember You,” #6, 1989), recorded and performed as their longest-serving vocalist until fired in 2015, issued a solo country-metal album in 2008, died from liver failure on 6/26/2021, age 56.
Jon Hassell → Classical-trained trumpeter, composer and creator of “Fourth World” music, the self-described “unified primitive/futurist sound” of modern electronics merged with ancient instruments from various ethnic cultures, its earliest articulation was the 1980 collaborative LP with Brian Eno, Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, which led to appearances with Talking Heads (“Houses In Motion” from Remain In Light, 1980), Peter Gabriel on the soundtrack album Birdy (1985), k.d. lang (“Hain’t It Funny” on Drag, 1997), and on multiple collaborations with Ry Cooder and many others, also issued 20 albums as a solo artist or leader of an ensemble, died from undisclosed causes on 6/26/2021, age 84.

June 29
John Lawton / (John Cooper Lawton) → Rock vocalist for various 60s-70s English bands, then led German prog rock and early heavy metal cult band Lucifer’s Friend for seven albums through the mid-80s and again in the 00s, along the way fronted and sang lead for Brit prog rock Uriah Heep (“Free Me,” 1977) and participated in projects with other bands plus one-off supergroups until his sudden and unexpected death from undisclosed causes on 6/29/2021, age 74.

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