Musicians We Lost In 2022 So Far
via Slordy Purdy / Youtube
Here is a list of some of the greatest musicians we lost this year so far.
Calvin Simon has died early this January at the age of 79. He moved to New Jersey in the late 1950s, and worked as a barber. Later on, fellow barbers George Clinton, and customers Ray Davis and Fuzzy Haskins started as the original members of the Parliaments and found early success with tracks like “I Can Feel the Ice Melting,” “Heart Trouble,” and “I Wanna Testify.” In 1997, Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with more than a dozen members of Parliament-Funkadelic. During his time in Parliament-Funkadelic, he appeared on classic songs like “Give Up the Funk,” “Flash Light,” and “Maggot Brain.”
John Burke Shelley, founder, singer and bassist of pioneering heavy metal band Budgie, died at age 71. He co-founded Budgie in 1967. He was the only musician to appear on every Budgie release. The band influenced hard rock and metal acts such as Metallica, Iron Maiden and Megadeth, all of whom have previously covered Budgie. In 2006, the band released its final album, You’re All Living in Cuckooland and took their last performance in 2010, during the same year, Shelley was diagnosed with a six-centimeter aortic aneurysm. Surgery was successful at that time, but it resurfaced in 2020.
Guitarist Barry Benedetta, known for contributing to Cinderella, passed away at the age of 62 after contracting COVID-19. According to the statement, Benedetta was found unresponsive in his home in December 17 and was taken to the hospital where he was put on a ventilator having Covid-19 symptoms. He passed away on January 6, leaving his wife Tish DeBenedetta and his three children. In 1984, Benedetta played guitar for the hard-rock and metal band Waysted, then contributed to Cinderella’s multiplatinum 1986 debut album, Night Songs, playing lead guitar on the tracks “Back Home Again,” “Nothin’ for Nothin’,” and “Push, Push.”
Ronnie Spector, leader of the girl group the Ronettes, passed away at 78 after a brief battle with cancer. Ronnie, born in 1943 in Manhattan as Veronica Yvette Bennet, formed The Ronettes in 1957 with her older sister, Estelle Bennett, and their cousin, Nedra Talley. Ronnie rose to fame with her group at the age of 18. They were responsible for hits such as “Be My Baby”, “Baby, I Love You, “Walking in the Rain”, and “The Best Part of Breakin’ Up.” Ronnie was referred to as the original “bad girl of rock ‘n’ roll.” Spector and the Ronettes was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Grammy Award-winning rocker Marvin Lee Aday “Meat Loaf” passed away on January 20 at the age of 74. He was reportedly critically ill with COVID-19 days leading up to his death. Meat Loaf has contributed a lot of iconic music throughout his legendary career that spanned over fifty years. He was best known for his ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ trilogy and considered as one of the best-selling musicians in rock history as his albums sold more than 100 million records.
Don Wilson, the co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the pioneering instrumental rock quartet The Ventures, died on January 22 at the age of 88. Wilson died of natural causes at his home in Tacoma, Washington. He was the last surviving member of the core Ventures lineup. The Ventures formed in 1958. In the 1960s and early 1970s, 38 of the band’s albums charted in the United States. Their hits included “Walk, Don’t Run,” which scored the No. 2 hit in the country, and the theme song for “Hawaii Five-O.” The Ventures are credited with helping to popularize the electric guitar in the USA and across the world, and are the best-selling instrumental band of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins
Hargus “Pig” Robbins, the acclaimed pianist known as a member of Nashville’s piano player for the city’s original “A Team” of session musicians, died at the age of 84. The first hit to feature Robbins’ playing was the 1959 tune “White Lightning,” released by country music artist George Jones. Throughout his life, Robbins appeared on thousands of recordings working with such acclaimed artists such as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, J.J. Cale, and Gordon Lightfoot. Arguably the most famous recording to feature Robbins’ work was Bob Dylan’s famed 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. Robbins spent the rest of his life as a session player in high demand, his impressive resume featured work alongside many other famed acts, including Neil Young, Shania Twain, John Anderson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Ween. In addition to his many collaborative projects, Robbins also released solo material, including nine albums in the 1960s and 1970s. He won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 1978 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
Singer-songwriter-producer Betty Davis, a funk pioneer and fashion icon in the 1970s, died of natural causes at age 77 in her longtime home of Homestead, Pennsylvania. Betty was once married to and collaborated with jazz legend and trumpeter Miles Davis. She was credited with inspiring then-husband to more contemporary sounds. Dubbed as the “Madonna before Madonna,” Davis was the rare woman to make funk records in the ’70s. Her three albums from that time didn’t reach commercial success, but showcased her fearless personality and sexuality, which inspired some artists in the decades following. In 1963, Davis released her first single, “The Cellar,” named after the trendy New York club. The single “Get Ready for Betty” and its B-side “I’m Gonna Get My Baby Back” followed the next year. She also wrote the Chamber Brothers’ 1967 single “Uptown,” which became their first Billboard Hot 100 entry.
English multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, who was a founding member of both King Crimson and Foreigner, died at the age of 75 on February 9 in his home in New York City. McDonald co-founded King Crimson in 1968, alongside Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Greg Lake and lyricist Peter Sinfield. On the band’s prog-rock debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, McDonald played saxophone, flute, clarinet, Mellotron, harpsichord, piano, organ, vibraphone, backing vocals and production among his contributions. King Crimson’s final performance with its original lineup took place at the Fillmore West in San Francisco on December 16, 1969. McDonald then departed the band following their first U.S. tour and years later, he formed yet another iconic band Foreigner. Some of the classic tracks which featured McDonald’s playing are “Feels Like the First Time”, “Cold As Ice”, “Hot Blooded” and “Double Vision.” McDonald left Foreigner in 1980 and proved to be an in-demand session musician playing on records, including the T. Rex album Electric Warrior, and with acts like Steve Hackett and Asia.
Howard Grimes, the veteran drummer best known for his work in the rhythm section of the Hi Records house band, passed away at age 80 on February 12, of kidney failure at Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis. Grimes was dubbed as “The Bulldog” by his mentor and Hi Records founder Willie Mitchell, for his heavy foot and steady beat behind the drum kit. He was the pillar of the Memphis soul music scene in the 1970s. As a member of the Hi Rhythm section, Grimes would play with classic acts and tracked records with artists like Al Green, Ann Peebles, Otis Clay, and Syl Johnson, among others. His beats on songs including Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain” served as the key foundation for the booming Memphis soul sound of the era. In recent years, Grimes played with the soul-jazz group the Bo-Keys. They were nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for their work on Cyndi Lauper’s Memphis Blues album, which also featured cameos from Peebles, B.B. King, and Allen Toussaint.
After battling with cancer, Gary Brooker, co-founder and frontman for Procol Harum, passed away at age 76. Brooker led the band for 55 years. They broke up in 1977 but reformed in 1991 and continued to tour and record. Their most recent album, Novum, arrived in 2017. In 2003, Brooker was recognized for his later humanitarian efforts with an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from the Queen of England. Brooker also performed alongside many rock legends during his long career, including playing piano on George Harrison’s album All Things Must Pass and providing backing vocals and keyboards for Eric Clapton’s 1981 album Another Ticket.
Barry Bailey, best-known as the guitarist in southern rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section, passed away on March 12 at the age of 73. The musician died in his sleep after years of struggling with multiple sclerosis. In 1970, Atlanta Rhythm Second officially became a band and were originally the house band at Studio One recording studio in Doraville, Ga. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1972, it was the first to their 13 studio LPs that would be released across their five-decade career. Throughout the years, the band reached several Top 20 hits, including “So in to You,” “I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight,” “Imaginary Lover,” “Do It or Die,” and “Spooky.” Bailey was the group’s founding guitarist. He played on every album until his retirement in 2006, in which they had their most success with their 1978’s platinum-selling Champagne Jam.
Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, passed away on March 25 at age 50. The late drummer was reportedly found dead in his hotel room in Bogota, Columbia, where the band was scheduled to perform at the Festival Estereo Picnic. An early toxicology report has been released stating that Hawkins had 10 different psychoactive substances in his system the night he died, including marijuana, tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines and opioids. Hawkins’ death was shortly categorized as an overdose as stated by the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia. Foo Fighters’ last live show with Hawkins was at the Lollapalooza Argentina on March 20.
Country singer and adman C.W. McCall, who was best known for his 1975 hit “Convoy,” passed away on April 1 at the age of 93 after a battling with cancer. He created the character of C.W. McCall in 1973 for the Old Home Bread while working at an Omaha ad agency. The ad campaign where Fries portrayed a truck driver won a Clio Award, led him to record a number of albums filled with humor. “Convoy” became an outlaw trucker anthem and reached No. 1 on the charts in January 1976 and inspired a Sam Peckinpah movie. Aside from “Convoy,” McCall also scored several hit country singles from 1974 to 1978 that included “Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Cafe,” “Wolf Creek Pass,” “Classified,” “There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock ‘n’ Roll)” and “Roses for Mama.”
Joe Messina of Funk Brothers and one of the original guitarists for Motown Records, died on April 4, at the age of 93. The reports stated that Joe had died of natural causes linked to a kidney disease he had been battling for 12 years. At a young age, he began performing in local clubs and founded the band, Joe Messina Orchestra. He then joined the house band for the daily children’s television program, The Soupy Sales Show, where he played alongside jazz legends such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. In 1959, Motown founder Berry Gordy recruited Messina to join his group of studio musicians and record at the label’s Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters. From then on, Messina has served as an official Funk Brother through 1972. Throughout his career from the late ‘50s to the early ‘70s, Messina played on hit records by the likes of Martha & the Vandellas, Four Tops, The Temptations, The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, and The Supremes.
Bobby Rydell, a teenage idol in the late 1950s, a star of radio, television and the 1963 film “Bye Bye Birdie,” passed away at age 79. Born Robert Louis Ridarelli in 1942, Rydell started his celebrity career after winning a TV talent show and became a regular guest. At age 16, he signed his first record deal and was later the youngest person to perform at New York’s Copacabana nightclub in 1961. Between the late ’50s and early ’60s, Rydell scored 29 hit singles throughout his career, including “Wild One,” “Volare,” “Wildwood Days,” “The Cha-Cha-Cha” and “Forget Him,” before the rise of the likes of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Paul McCartney once said Rydell had inspired one of the Fab Four’s songs. Rydell sold more than 25 million records in his lifetime.