Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door: Notable Deaths in March 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 last month:

March 02
Jim Beard / (James Arthur Beard) → Grammy-winning jazz and rock keyboardist, composer, and producer, released six solo CDs, wrote over 100 published songs, did session and production work with jazz and rock luminaries, including John MacLaughlin, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea, appeared with major symphony groups, taught at renowned schools of music, arranged film soundtracks, and, since 2008, played as a full member of jazz-rock Steely Dan, performed a last show with the group in January 2024 and died from complications of a sudden illness on 3/02/2024, age 63.

March 04
Ronnie King / (Cornelis Van Sprang) → Bass guitarist and co-founding member of Canadian pop-rock trio The Stampeders, the band scored 14 hits on the Canada Top 40 chart in the 70s, and two in the U.S., including “Sweet City Woman” (#8, CAN #1, 1971), the band broke up in the late 70s but reformed in 1992, played with his bandmates for the ensuing 32 years and was planning to tour again but died from a sudden illness on 3/4/2024, age 76.

March 05
Debra Byrd → R&B and pop vocalist best known for singing in Barry Manilow’s backing group, Lady Flash, the trio issued a charting single “Street Singin’” (#27, 1976) and an album, both produced by Manilow, also appeared on tour with Bob Dylan and gave him voice lessons, joined the production of TV music program American Idol in 2002 for 15 seasons as vocal coach, died from undisclosed causes on 3/5/2024, age 72.

March 07
Steve Lawrence / (Sidney Liebowitz) → Smooth baritone crooner with wife and singing partner Eydie Gormé in the pop/easy listening/adult contemporary duo Steve & Eydie from 1954 through 2009, simultaneously recorded as a solo act and scored eleven Top 40 hits, the biggest being “Go Away Little Girl” (#1, AC #1, 1962), acted on Broadway and in TV shows and feature films, including both Blues Brothers movies, died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease on 3/7/2024, age 88.

March 10
Eric Carmen / (Eric Howard Carmen) → Founding member, keyboards, vocals, and principal songwriter for Cleveland-based power pop pioneers The Raspberries, wrote “Go All The Way” (#5, CAN #5, 1972), “I Wanna Be with You” (#16, CAN #17, 1972) and five other charting singles before starting a solo career in 1975, more than a dozen charting soft rock ballads followed, including “All By Myself” (#2, CAN #3, 1976) and “Hungry Eyes” (#4, CAN #2, 1987, featured in the action film Top Gun), continued to record and perform, and write songs for himself and others, until dying in his sleep on 3/10/2024, age 74.
Karl Wallinger / (Karl Edmund De Vere Wallinger) → Welsh keyboardist and songwriter with influential 80s Brit pop-rock The Waterboys, left in 1986 for a solo act performing as alt rock World Party (“Way Down Now,” Modern Rock #1, 1990), a rotating cast of supporting musicians occasionally joined to create a true band, collaborated with Bob Geldorf, Sinead O’Connor and others during the 90s, wrote “She’s The One” for Robbie Williams (UK #1, 1999), suffered a brain aneurysm in 2001 and stopped performing until 2006, died following a stroke on 3/10/2024, age 66.
T. M. Stevens / (Thomas Michael Stevens) → Bass guitarist, touring and session musician, member of new wave pop-rock The Pretenders (“Don’t Get Me Wrong,” #10, UK #10, 1986) in 1986-1987 and Steve’s Vai’s one-album, progressive metal group Vai in 1993, recorded seven solo albums through 2007 and appeared on several dozen albums by Joe Cocker, Billy Squier and many others through 2008, died from complications of dementia on 3/10/2024, age 72.
Paul Nelson → Grammy-winning blues/rock guitarist, session and touring musician for over 30 other bands, including Eric Clapton, Joe Walsh, and Gov’t Mule, fronted his own bands and issued a lone solo CD in 2001, produced several albums for others, collaborated with blues legend Johnny Winter on multiple projects over 15 years, including the Grammy-winning album Step Back (2014), died from a heart attack on 3/10/2024, exact age unknown.

March 13
Dick Allix / (Richard Allix) → With three of his school mates, co-founder and drummer in Brit pop-rock Vanity Fare and the worldwide hit “Hitchin’ A Ride” (#5, CAN #3, UK #16, 1969), left the band in 1970 to pursue a career in sports promotion, co-founded the World Darts Corporation in 1992 and led the organization as CEO, switched to Events Director after the WDC was restructured to the Professional Darts Corporation in 2001, retired in 2014 but continued to manage players and promotions, died from undisclosed causes on 3/13/2024, age 78.

March 17
Steve Harley / (Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice) → Frontman and lead singer for glam-rock Cockney Rebel and twelve charting UK singles, including “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)” (UK #1, 1975), by the late 70s the band existed in name only and became a vehicle for an mildly successful a solo career (“Ballerina (Prima Donna),” UK #51, 1983), reformed the band in 1988 and toured and recorded sporadically for the ensuing 35 years as a band or a solo act, in electric or acoustic modes, until announcing a cancer diagnosis in late 2023, died at home from the disease on 3/17/2024, age 73.
Sandra Crouch / (Sandra Elaine Crouch) → Los Angeles session tambourinist and backing singer for several Motown acts, including Jackson 5 hits “I Want You Back” (#1, UK #2, 1969) and “ABC” (#1, UK #8, 1971), later gravitated to gospel music and sang duets with her twin brother Andraé and in a group that included Andraé, Billy Preston and others, issued several solo albums, one of which won a Grammy in 1983, left the industry and joined her brother as co-pastors of a California church in 1998, assumed the role of senior pastor following Andraé‘s death in 2015, died from undisclosed causes on 3/7/2024, age 81.

March 25
Chris Cross / (Christopher Thomas Allen) → Co-founding member and bass guitarist for Brit New Wave electro-synth-pop pioneers Ultravox, the band scored seven UK Top 10 albums and seventeen UK Top 40 singles in the 80s, co-wrote their biggest hits, including “Vienna” (UK #2, 1981), left the band in 1989 for a career as a psychotherapist, returned to co-write the album Brilliant (2012) and perform in the subsequent tour, died from unspecified causes on 3/25/2024, age 71.

March 29
Gerry Conway / (Gerald Conway) → British rock drummer with a long career providing the underlying rhythm for numerous top folk-rock acts, starting as a 70s session musician for Steeleye Span, John Cale and others, and in Cat Stevens’ backing band, performed with Richard Thompson, Jethro Tull, the McGarrigle sisters and Pentangle (with his wife Jacqui McShee) in the 80s, joined Fairport Convention in 1998, 25 years after appearing on their album Rosie, played with the group until becoming ill in 2022, died from a motor neuron disease on 3/29/2024, age 76.

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