Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door: Notable Deaths in October 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:

October 02
Mary McCaslin / (Mary Noel McCaslin) → Los Angeles-area contemporary folk and Western singer/songwriter in clubs and festivals, sang ballads of the Old West and songs about life in the New West often performed with distinctive open guitar tunings, a musical style that influenced later female folkies Nanci Griffith, Mary Chapin Carpenter and others, issued eleven studio and one compilation LP from 1969 to 2006, often with tracks re-interpreting such rock and pop classics as The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” and The Beatles‘ “Blackbird,” died from progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare neurological disease similar to Parkinson’s, on 10/02/2022, age 76.

October 04
Loretta Lynn / (Loretta Webb) → Iconic country and country-pop singer/songwriter with 37 Country Top 10 hits, eleven reaching #1, including her signature “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (#83, Country #1, 1970), in a six decade career that included becoming the first female named Country Music Entertainer of the Year and the subject of the 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter, also recorded a dozen Country Top 10 duet singles and ten studio albums with Conway Twitty in the 70s and 80s, continued to record and release solo albums until her final LP, Still Woman Enough (#83, Country #9, 2021), died in her sleep on her Tennessee ranch on 10/4/2022, age 90.

October 05
Lenny Lipton / (Leonard Lipschitz) → Author, filmmaker, lyricist and inventor best known as a pioneer in projected three-dimensional imagery, produced 16mm films in the 60s and authored books on filmmaking in the 70s, the royalties from his books and from “Puff The Magic Dragon,” a poem he wrote as a 19-year old college student which classmate Peter Yarrow later turned into the instant and enduring folk hit with Peter, Paul & Mary (#2, MOR #1, 1963), provided funding for research and development of concepts that led to 70 patents and groundbreaking 3-D technology in 80s, and eventually to the modern stereoscopic filmmaking equipment in use in tens of thousands of movie theaters worldwide, died from brain cancer on 10/5/2022, age 85.

October 06
Jody Miller / (Myrna Joy Miller) → Country-pop guitarist and singer/songwriter known as the “Queen Of The House” after her Grammy-winning hit song of the same name (#12, Country #5, 1965) answered Roger Miller’s “King Of The Road (#4, Country #1, 1965), scored a second Top 40 hit with the now-prophetic “Home Of The Brave” (#25, 1965) but failed to crack the Top 40 thereafter, despite eleven Country Top 40 hits through 1979 including several country-pop covers, retired in the early 80s but reappeared in the 90s as Christian and gospel singer, died from complications of Parkinson’s disease on 10/6/2022, age 80.
Ivy Jo Hunter / (George Ivy Hunter) → Detroit native who signed to Motown Records as a sax and trumpet sessionman, then moved up to songwriting and penned and/or produced many dozens of songs for the label, often in collaboration with Motown A&R executive William “Mickey” Stevenson, including Martha & The Vandellas‘ “Dancing In The Street” (#2, R&B #8, 1964) and The Four Tops’ “Ask The Lonely” (#24, R&B #9, 1965), stayed in Detroit when Motown moved to Lo Angeles in 1970 and wrote songs and produced recordings for Funkadelic and others, died from undisclosed causes on 10/6/2022, age 82.

October 07
Art Laboe / (Arthur Egnoian) → Teenaged amateur radio station operator who went on to nearly eight decades in West Coast radio broadcasting – 70 years in the Southern California market – from the earliest days of rock ‘n’ roll, along the way pioneering call-in dedications, off-site broadcasts and station-sponsored live shows, coined the term “oldies but goodies” in the late 50s to promote his series of compilation albums of recent hits, worked for a number of stations in the L.A-area over the years and developed a devoted following of listeners, particluarly Chicanos, continued to broadcast from his home on Sunday evenings while in his 90s, died from pneumonia on 10/7/2022, age 97.

October 08
Eddie “Charlie Brown” Weiss / (Edward Weiss) → Using the stage name “Charlie Brown” from The Coasters‘ hit (#2, R&B #2, UK #6, 1959), longtime radio DJ generally credited with coining the term and then championing Beach music, the R&B/soul-based soundtrack to Carolina beach parties in the 50s, 60s and 70s, convinced Atlantic Records to release two albums of Beach music, Beach Beat and Beach Beat Vol. 2 in the late 60s and spent nearly five decades on-air celebrating the genre and its spinoff dance craze, the “shag” (now the official dance of the two Carolina states and a staple of dance competitions worldwide), hosted the weekly “On the Beach” syndicated program broadcast on over 40 stations in the Southeast, retired in 2014, lived with declining health in his last years and died after a short, undisclosed illness on 20/08/2022, age 80.

October 10
Anita Kerr / (Anita Jean Grilli) → Country-pop and easy listening vocalist, composer and bandleader, fronted Grammy-winning The Anita Kerr Singers, the in-demand Nashville session vocal group that sang the “oohs” and “aahs” on hundreds of pop and country hits in the 50s and 60s, her arrangements of background vocals were important contributions to country music’s pop-oriented “Nashville Sound” in the 60s, relocated to L.A. in 1965 and released albums of MOR-pop vocals, collaborated with Rod McKuen on mood-music albums in the late 60s and early 70s, moved to Switzerland in 1970 to write and produce film soundtracks in the 80s, continued to record and tour Europe as The Anita Kerr Singers with a fluid line-up of supporting singers, retired in the late 80s and died from unspecified causes in a Swiss hospital on 10/22/2022, age 94.

October 13
Joyce Sims / (Joyce Elizabeth Sims-Sandiford) → Late 80s R&B singer and songwriter with ten charting singles in the US and UK, including the club favorite “Come Into My Life” (R&B #10, UK #7, 1987), her blend of R&B with electro-dance rhythms placed her on the edge of stardom when her independent label Sleeping Bag Records dissolved, left the industry for nearly two decades but returned in the 00s with a final charting single, “What The World Needs Now” (Dance #14, 2006), released a final album, Love Song in 2014, which includes a duet with reggae vocalist Maxi Priest, died from undisclosed causes on 10/13/2022, age 63.

October 18
Robert Gordon / (Robert Ira Gordon) → Punk rock guitarist and lead singer in 70s New York punk band Tuff Darts for their appearance on the legendary punk compilation album Live At CBGB’s (1976), shortly after shifted to retro-rockabilly and tirelessly supported the 70s/80s renaissance of early rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly music, recorded several well-received albums with guitarists Link Wray and Chris Spedding, covered songs by idols Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and other early rockers (and friend Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire” in 1978), continued to record and perform into the 10s and issued a final studio album, Rockabilly For Life in 2020, died from acute myeloid leukemia on 10/18/2022, age 75.

October 19
Joanna Simon / (Joanna Elizabeth Simon) → Mezzo-soprano opera and concert singer, older sister of singer/songwriters Carly and Lucy Simon, debuted at New York City Opera in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” in 1962 and won the Marian Anderson Award as the year’s most promising young singer, then embarked on a nearly 30-year career performing with multiple organizations on opera stages around the world, along the way finding time to sing backup on Carly’s No Secrets album (#1, 1973) and Lucy’s LP Lucy Simon (1975), started a side career in music journalism on public TV in the 80s, and a full-time career as a real estate broker in the 90s, died from thyroid cancer on 10/19/2022, the day before her 86th birthday and just one day before her younger sister Lucy died of breast cancer.

October 20
Lucy Simon / (Lucy Elizabeth Simon) → Folk-pop singer and Broadway music composer, started her career in the New York folk revival scene of the 60s in a duo with younger sister Carly as the Simon Sisters and the minor hit “Winkin’, Blinkin’ And Nod” (#73, CAN #20, 1964), later released two solo albums and won Grammy Awards as co-producer of two albums, In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record and In Harmony 2 featuring sister Carly, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and others singing children’s music, nominated for a Tony Award in 1991 as composer of the score for Broadway show The Secret Garden, died from metastatic breast cancer on 10/20/2022, age 82, one day after her older sister Joanna died of thyroid cancer.

October 23
Gregg Philbin → Early bassist, backing vocalist and occasional songwriter in prog-rock/hard rock REO Speedwagon, replaced the original bassist in 1968 and played in the band from the eponymous debut album in 1971 through their breakout album, the platinum-selling Live: You Get What You Play For (#72, 1977), left over musical and financial differences with his bandmates as REO Speedwagon began to drift away from the progressive leaning of his bass playing and toward more polished and structured arena rock, spent many years investing in Florida real estate, suffered from declining health for many years and died from undisclosed causes on 10/23/2022, age 75.

October 28.
Jerry Lee Lewis → Iconic and scandalous rock ‘n roll keyboardist, singer and songwriter known as “The Killer” for his piano-pounding music, raucous lyrics and wild stage persona, his place in the pantheon of early rock stars followed big hits like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” (#3, Country #1, 1957), “Great Balls Of Fire” (#2, Country #1, 1957) and “Breathless” (#7, Country #4, 1958), ironically his lone Top 10 hits but just three of 30 singles in the Country Top 10, in 1986 became one the earliest inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and later #24 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, despite a six decade career punctuated by seven marriages, including one to his 13-year-old cousin, drug and alcohol abuse, an arrest for trespassing at Elvis Presley’s Graceland with a loaded gun, and tax troubles with the IRS, toured and recorded into the 2010s and died from pneumonia on 10/28/2022,age 87.
D. H. Peligro / (Darren Eric Henley) → Longtime drummer for influential West Coast punk rockers The Dead Kennedys (“Police Truck,” UK Indie #1, 1980), kept the group’s beat in two stints, the first from 1981 to their break-up in 1986, then joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers (“Under The Bridge,” #2, Alt #6, 1991) for a brief and acrimonious time in 1988, fronted his own band and played with others in the 90s until rejoining The Dead Kennedys when reformed in 2001 and, except for a brief hiatus in 2008 as a break from constant touring, stayed with the band until dying following an accidental fall in his L.A. home on 10/28/2022, age 63.

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