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

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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 03
Pete Garner / (Peter Garner) → Original bassist for pioneering Manchester post-punk The Stone Roses (“Love Spreads,” Alt. #9, UK #2, 1994), left the band in 1987 reportedly over fear of musical inadequacy next to his bandmates, spent his a career working for UK music retailer HMV, died from cancer on 11/03/2023, age 59.

November 10
John Morris / (John Hanna Morris, Jr.) → Theater lighting designer in New York and London in the 60s, assisted impresario Bill Graham in opening the vaunted Fillmore East concert venue in New York in 1968, then served as production manager for the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair, during which he famously issued an on-stage warning about “brown acid,” later opened the Rainbow Theater in London and produced live shows by Pink Floyd, The Who and David Bowie, among many others, in later years produced antique shows and dealt in North American artifacts, suffered from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease following treatment for lung cancer and died on 11/10/2023, age 84.

November 16
George “Funky” Brown / (George Melvin Brown) → With six of his teenaged schoolmates, founding member and drummer for New Jersey jazz-soul instrumental Jazziacs in 1964, the group eventually morphed into soul, funk, pop and disco fusion Kool & The Gang and a slew of memorable hits, including “Jungle Boogie” (#4, R&B #2, 1973), “Ladies’ Night” (#8, R&B #1, 1979) and the enduring “Celebration” (#1, R&B #1, 1980), recorded and toured with the group for six decades as one of two constant members, produced their 26th studio album, People Just Wanna Have Fun in 2023, died from lung cancer on 11/16/2023, age 74.
Peter Solley → Journeyman keyboardist for several Brit rock and prog rock bands in the late 60s and through the 70s, including Procol Harum and Whitesnake, in the 80s began to write TV jingles and produce tracks and albums for others, including “What I Like About You” (#49, AUS #2, 1979) for The Romantics, the Grammy-nominated LP 1916 by Motörhead (#142, UK #24, 1991) and albums by Peter Frampton, Mountain, and Ted Nugent, among others, moved to Miami and then settled in Vermont in the early 00s, started a gelato business and died there from undisclosed causes on 11/16/2023, age 75.

November 20
Mars Williams → Jazz and rock saxophonist with a long résumé of session work, touring and membership in various groups, best known for gigging with new wave pop-rock The Waitresses in the early 80s and two stints, 1983-89 and 2005-23, with post-punk The Psychedelic Furs (“Pretty In Pink,” #41, UK #18, 1986), in between founded acid jazz pioneers Liquid Soul and played in free jazz NRG Ensemble, issued four albums as a bandleader and appeared on dozens more as a sideman for others, performed in a final show with The Furs a month before dying of liver duct cancer on 11/20/2023, age 68.

November 21
Chad Allan / (Allan Peter Stanley Kowbel) → Lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter for Canadian garage rock Chad Allan & The Expressions and the cover hit “Shakin’ All Over” (#22, CAN #1, 1965), left in 1966 as the band was transforming into pop-rock The Guess Who (“American Woman” (#1, 1970), in 1971 joined former bandmate Randy Bachman in country-rock Brave Belt but left in 1972 before Brave Belt became Bachman-Turner Overdrive (“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” #1, CAN #1, 1974), over the ensuing years issued seven non-charting albums as a bandleader or solo artist, hosted a CBC-TV music program, and taught songwriting at the university level, suffered a stroke in 2017 and died from unspecified causes on 11/21/2023, age 80.

November 22
Jean Knight / (Jean Audrey Caliste) → New Orleans one hit wonder R&B/soul and funk singer with the Grammy-nominated “Mr. Big Stuff” (#2, R&B #1, 1971) and three other, minor singles, dropped away the music industry and graduated from nursing school in the 80s, practiced as a licensed nurse for 15 years but continued to tour on the oldies circuit, primarily in the Southern states, through the 00s, served on the Louisiana Music Commission and was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007, died from natural causes on 11/22/2023, age 80.
Phil Quartararo / (Philip Michael Quartararo) → Music promoter and record label executive, worked at nearly every major record company over a five-decade career that included launching the careers of Styx, U2, and Paula Abdul, and working with scores of other top artists, started in an entry-level job in radio promotion at A&M Records in 1977, in the 80s rose up through the ranks at RCA, Island and Arista, joined Virgin in 1986 and eventually became CEO, left in 1997 to become president at Warner Bros. Records until 2002, then returned to Virgin/EMI and its distribution division to guide the shift from physical CDs to streaming sales, served as president of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation Records from 2016-2019, then co-owner and CEO of The Hello Group digital music consulting firm until his death from pancreatic cancer on 11/22/2023, age 67.

November 26
Geordie Walker / (Kevin Walker) → English rock guitarist and founding member of post-punk Killing Joke, over 40+ years played on all 15 of the band’s studios albums and all 21 of their charting singles, including “Follow The Leaders” (Dance #25, UK #55, 1981), his guitar work and stage presence were critical to Killing Joke’s gloom metal, punk and industrial sound that influenced Metallica, Nirvana and other 90s rock bands, during breaks from Killing Joke fronted his own bands, moved to the Czech Republic in 2006 and produced other artists music in Prague, suffered a stroke and died there two days later on 11/26/2023, age 64.

November 30
Shane MacGowan / (Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan) → Britain-born, Irish-blooded guitarist, vocalist, chief songwriter and frontman for influential Celtic folk-punk-rock The Pogues (“Tuesday Morning,” Rock #11, UK #18, 1993), emerged with the band from the London pub scene in the early 80s and scored seven Ireland Top 10 hits by 1990, plus two in the UK, was fired from the band for alcohol and drug abuse in 1991 and fronted his own version of the band in the 90s when the other Pogues disbanded, reunited with five of the original Pogues in 2002 and toured with the band until a final performance in France in 2014, contracted encephalitis and died from the disorder on 11/30/2023, age 65.

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