Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door: Notable Deaths in November 2022

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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 died last month:

November 05
Tyrone Downie → Jamaican pianist and backing vocalist for reggae superstars Bob Marley & The Wailers in the 70s, appeared on the group’s final seven studio albums and left after Marley’s death in 1981, did studio work and toured with Grace Jones, Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Tom Tom Club, Ian Drury and many others over the decades, his last recording session took place just months before dying from unspecified causes on 11/5/2022, age 66.
Mimi Parker / (Mimi Jo Parker) → With her husband, Alan Sparhawk on guitars and a rotating lineup of bassists over the years, drums and harmony vocals in minimalist alt rock Low, the band never had a hit single nor a gold album in nearly 30 years but became a steady and influential element in the 90s post-grunge, “slowcore” sound of brooding lyrics and dirge-like rhythms, diagnosed with ovarian cancer in late 2020 and died from the disease on 11/5/2002, age 55.

November 07
Jeff Cook / (Jefftrey Alan Cook) → Lead guitar, fiddle and vocals in country-rock Wildcountry, by 1978 the high school group morphed into country-rock superstars Alabama and 32 Country #1 hits over two decades at the top of the charts – seven of them also Hot 100s – including “Love In The First Degree” (#15, Country #1, 1981), after the band stopped performing fronted his own groups and issued nine solo albums between 2005 and 2018; the last, “Why Not Me” (2018), an improbable but good-humored collaboration with William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame, owned a recording studio, radio station and restaurant, toured occasionally with Alabama, the final time just before his death from complications of Parkinson’s disease on 11/7/2002, age 73.

November 08
Dan McCafferty / (William Daniel McCafferty) → Founding member, lead singer and songwriter in Scottish hard rock Nazareth, sang the enduring rock ballad “Love Hurts” (#8, CAN #1, UK #41, 1976), appeared on all 25 Nazareth studio albums, eight live albums and nearly 25 charting singles over nearly 50 years fronting the band until his retirement in 2013, issued three solo LPs, the last in 2019, suffered from chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) in his later years and died on 11/8/2022, age 76.

November 09
Garry Roberts / (Garrick Roberts) → Co-founding member and lead guitarist for Irish pop-punk The Boomtown Rats and their big 70s hits, including “I Don’t Like Mondays” (#73, IRE #1, UK #1, 1979) and “Rat Trap” (IRE #2, UK #1, 1979), the first rock song by an Irish band to reach #1 in the UK, after break-up in 1986, worked as a touring sound engineer for several top UK bands, then held a day job for fifteen years into the 2000s as a financial services advisor while playing gigs in the evening with former Rats bandmates, switched careers again in the 2010s to work as a central heating technician, died from undisclosed causes on 11/9/2022, age 72.

November 10
Nik Turner / (Nicholas Robert Turner) → Saxophone-playing roadie for start-up band Group X, which within a few weeks re-formed and became the first line-up of legendary space rock pioneers Hawkwind, hired as founding member, multi-instrumentalist and occasional composer, played reed instruments with the band in two stints, first from 1969 to 1976, their most commercially successful and critically acclaimed period (“Silver Machine,” UK #3, 1972), left due to artistic differences but returned in 1982 for recording sessions for the LP Choose Your Masques (1982) on which he was credited as a “guest musician,” from 1977 on fronted his own bands Sphynx (one single featuring lead vocals by Sting of The Police), Inner City Unit, then Nik Turner’s Fantastic All Stars in the late 80s, then Hawkwind offshoot Space Ritual and Nik Turner’s Hawkwind in the 2000s, performed with multiple bands and gigs with other musicians through the 10s until just before his death from natural causes on 11/10/2022, age 82.

November 11
Keith Levene / (Julian Keith Levene) → Roadie for prog rock Yes, then co-founder and guitarist for influential and acclaimed punk-ska-dance-rock The Clash (“Complete Control,” UK #28, 1977) left in 1978 to start post-punk Public Image Ltd. with ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon, co-wrote PiL’s debut hit single “Public Image” {UK #9, 1978) and played lead guitar through 1983, when he left over creative differences during development of their fourth album, This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get (UK #56, 1984), released his own version of the album as Commercial Zone, the original working title of the PiL album (US-only release, did not chart, 1984); thereafter dabbled in production work and appeared in various projects, often with former PiL bandmate Jah Wobble, issued five solo albums and five EP sets, including an instrumental version Commercial Zone 2014, died from complications of liver cancer on 11/11/2022, age 65.

November 12
Gene “Cip” Cipriano / (Eugene Fred Cipriano) → Master saxophonist and sessionman, likely on more recordings than any other woodwind player, credited with the sax, clarinet, flute and/or oboe lines on thousands of pop and jazz recordings, and on dozens of films and television show theme songs, both as an independent player and as a member of the famed Wrecking Crew consortium of L.A.’s top session players, his credits include The Flintstones, MASH, Star Trek, The Simpsons, and Mission Impossible, ghosting the saxophone part for Tony Curtis’ character in the iconic film Some Like It Hot (1959), and playing on hundreds of charting singles by The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Lady Gaga and countless others, issued a lone solo album First Time Out (2006) at the age of 78 and played all the solos on its two-CDs, died of natural causes on 11/12/2022, age 94.

November 19
Danny Kalb / (Daniel Ira Kalb) → Wisconsin coffee house singer who met and followed Bob Dylan to New York and the Greenwich Village folk revival scene of the early 60s, played with Dave Van Ronk, Judy Collins, Phil Ochs and others, in 1965 co-founded influential jazz/blues-rock fusion The Blues Project (“Flute Thing,” 1966), left for a while in the late 60s to sort through substance abuse, returned in the 70s for a long career alternately playing in Blues Project reunions, issuing solo albums, fronting his own bands and collaborating in numerous side projects, died from cancer on 11/19/2022, age 80.


November 21
Wilko Johnson / (John Andrew Wilkinson) → Founding member and first lead guitarist for pioneering Brit pub-rock Dr. Feelgood (“Milk And Alcohol,” UK #9, 1979), his hard-edged, staccato guitar take on R&B sounds drove the band to the front wave of punk music in the mid-70s, reached the top of the UK album charts with the LP Stupidity (UK #1, 1976) and provided a huge influence to coming punkers, over the ensuing years founded blues-rock Solid Senders, fronted his own bands, joined Ian Dury‘s The Blockheads for a time, and appeared in a small role in the 2010s TV series Game of Thrones, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had a large tumor removed in 2013, died from the disease on 11/21/2022, age 77.

November 25
Irene Cara / (Irene T. Escalera) → Actor, dancer and disco-pop diva whose personal flashdance at the top the charts lasted less than four years but led to five Top 10 hits in the US during the later disco era, including two movie title songs, “Fame” (#4, UK #1 1980) in which she played the starring role as Coco Hernandez, and the Grammy-winning “Flashdance…What A Feelin'” (#1, UK #2, 1983) for which she wrote the lyrics, issued three solo albums in the 80s, toured extensively in the 90s, formed all-female dance-pop Hot Caramel in the 00s, died from unspecified causes on 11/25/2022, age 63.

November 30
Christine McVie / (Christine Anne Perfect) → Singer, songwriter and keyboardist, major contributor to the mega-success of pop-rock Fleetwood Mac in the 70s and 80s, wrote or co-wrote many of the group’s huge hits, including “Don’t Stop” (#3, UK #32, 1977) and “Little Lies” (#4, UK #5,, 1987), started in blues band Chicken Shack in the late 60s and sang lead on several unremarkable singles, married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie and joined his blues-rock band in 1969, retired from music in 1998 but returned for one-off Fleetwood Mac reunions and a collaboration with bandmate Lindsey Buckingham in 2017, died following a brief illness on 11/30/2022, age 79.

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