This Day in Death

6.27.14: Bobby Womack – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:24 pm July 2, 2014

BOBBY_WOMACKSo, to review: Heart-shaped soundhole on your guitar = clever and tastefully sexual. Goatse-inspired soundhole on your guitar = crass and unromantic. Do I have that pretty much right, emcee at the Our Lady of Hope open mic night?

 

Singer/songwriter Bobby Womack died on Friday and I’m kinda at a loss for anything to add, seeing as how wrestler/poet the Iron Sheik’s already written pretty much the most beautiful Twitter eulogy Womack could’ve asked for:

Sheik is, of course, referring to the fabled “Black Note,” an extremely low pitch hidden within the music of soul singers of Womack’s caliber. Legend goes that just the rich, low tone alone can impregnate a woman orally. Uh, sorry: aurally.

Womack experienced a number of hills and troughs throughout his seven-decade career, but went out on a high note with his final completed album, 2012’s well-received The Bravest Man in the Universe. Rolling Stone listed it as one of the 50 best albums of the year, although that’s actually kinda odd, since they only awarded it three and a half stars out of five in their review. Now, I’m no regional mathlete, but that translates to roughly 70%, which is generally considered to be somewheres around a C- (or, if you will, an Alabama A). This leads me to assume that either the collective staff of Rolling Stone only listened to about 51 albums in 2012, or that they’ve been completely sucked up into a vortex of their own cultural irrelevance. That’s Rolling Stone Magazine: “We don’t even like the things we do like!”

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes, pneumonia, colon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease[.]

Jesus, I didn’t even know a single person could have all of those things. Did he live inside a Petri dish or something? Did his doctor even consider upping his dosage of handwashing “Happy Birthday”s to three? I mean, that’s a potential malpractice suit right there. What a depressing mess this has turned into. You know what, let’s just check in on the Iron Sheik again:

Ha! You tell ’em, Sheik! I bet Satan is mighty pissed off right about now, although it’s probably pretty hard to tell the difference one way or the other.

 

Source: Rolling Stone

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6.15.14 – Casey Kasem – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:53 am June 18, 2014

CASEY_KASEMOOOH NOOO NO NO; If you’re a cartoon dog functioning at a level that involves standing up for photo ops and rudimentary vocal ability then you’re anthropomorphized enough to get a real job and contribute to society right alongside us humans and our crushed spirits. No more of this laid back, best-of-both-worlds Marmaduke shit. Hell, Goofy has Down syndrome but even he manages to put a vest on himself every morning. At least he’s trying.

 

Legendary voice actor and American Top 40 DJ Casey Kasem passed away on Sunday amidst antagonism between family members pertaining to his hospice care. Kasem’s death had been a slow and painful ordeal, only slightly worse than trying to convince America that Imagine Dragons is a legitimate musical force every damn week. I don’t know what kind of substance is running in Seacrest’s veins that gives him the strength to power through that particular shame with his creepy rictus intact, but if it’s human blood I’ll eat my oversized novelty hat.

His voice was familiar to fans who tuned in weekly to hear him count down the nation’s most popular songs, a tradition that he continued with Casey’s Top 40, American Top 20 and American Top 10.

“Hosting various versions of my countdown program has kept me extremely busy, and I loved every minute of it,” he said upon his retirement in 2009.

Kasem seemed like a pretty nice guy and the story of his death has been a particularly sad one, so I figured we’d just look at some insincere tweets, I’d probably microwave this gas station burrito that’s been sitting around for a while, and we’d all pack it in for an early yet productive day. Then I found this:

 

 

Now, at first this struck me as the usual “Even in grief, I can’t go 140 characters without talking about myself” celeb tweet that we’ve poked with a stick before, but something just seemed extra obnoxious about Osmond here. Maybe it’s the painfully earnest profile picture suggesting a total lack of self-awareness, I don’t know. At any rate, I decided to follow the rabbit hole down a little further.

Donny Osmond’s Twitter account is a perfect example of why I hate Twitter. (Speaking of which, make sure to follow the TDiD’s new Twitter account! Social media experts agree: It’s pointlessly superfluous.) I realize that, at its core, the stupid thing is just an image management tool for celebrities, but Jesus Christ at least pretend you’re giving me something akin to a meaningful content handjob. Instead, just about every single tweet is The Donfather either vainly reposting a stranger’s compliment about him or touting what he believes to be his revolutionary new phone app. Since I’m extremely suggestible, I downloaded said app, and… it’s nothing. It’s literally nothing but samples of the cover songs on his new album with a couple of lines written about each. Also known as what we used to call a web site. You know, back in the Oughties.

So what the hell? Chicago Sun-Times, what have you got for me?

“The record company thought I was nuts to allow two minutes’ worth of sampling, but I told them, if they like what they hear, they’ll want to buy the album,” Osmond said. “And the app asks for absolutely no permissions; I have no interest in invading people’s cell phones like the rest of the apps out there that invade your phone with permissions. And it absolutely had to be a free app. I’m a HUGE tech geek, so I designed it to be easy to use, extremely simple in design. I turned it over to an engineer for the code and we went through a few incarnations and it’s finally out.”

You see, cynics? The Wizard of Os isn’t gonna give you the snowjob: You get those samples of/blurbs about other peoples’ songs for FREE. Yes, I’m sure he’s taking a serious hit by letting us be advertised to, absolutely free of charge and without swearing NSA loyalty oaths, but that’s why they call him Silicon Valley Don. I mean, like, just now I called him that. Technically, that counts.

But don’t take my word for it; Just look at this review from noted person who totally exists Jamie Heiker, who reminds us that “Donny has always been on the cutting edge of music and technology.” That must be all kinds of true. Would you expect anything less forward-thinking from a man who once owned a technicolor dreamcoat? And who can forget his annual one-man expeditions to the Internet to sandblast all of the accumulated YouPorn grime from its tubes, or his current work with controversial noise-rock poster boys Death Grips?

DEATHGRIPSDONNYOSMOND

So there you go. Donny Osmond officially considers himself to be on the bleeding edge of technological innovation. You guys caused all this, what with your Tweeting about how you’re synching your Pinterest to your Tumblr or whatever the hell. Now even Donny Osmond knows what an app is and I have to maintain a Twitter account, because the internet is terrible. Oh, and Casey Kasem is dead, too. It’s really just piling on at that point.



Source: People

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5.18.14: Jerry Vale – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:47 pm May 21, 2014

JERRY_VALETypically the phrase “great Italian hits” is just a list of people Frank Sinatra has had killed. Man, if the Italians were allowed on the internet I would be in some shit right about now.

 

50s-era singer Jerry Vale is dead today, most likely from something medical, but I feel we shouldn’t shut the door just yet on the possibility of a new rabies strain that only affects aged crooners. Sorry, “natural causes” has just reached the saturation point of boredom for me. You gotta spice this shit up, Nature.

Vale also played himself in the films Goodfellas and Casino, the latter of which is actually just Goodfellas with an additional half hour of Joe Pesci calling Sharon Stone a “puttana,” plus some stock footage of a roulette wheel spinning. Probably.

Mr. Vale rose to stardom performing in supper clubs as a teenager, and hit the charts for the first time in 1953 with “You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart.” He was a fixture at Columbia Records, where he recorded more than 50 albums and churned out hits like “Two Purple Shadows” and “Al Di La.” His biggest hit, “You Don’t Know Me,” peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list in 1956.

More like, “You Don’t Know This Song,” am I right? Ha! I tell you, sometimes they just write themselves. Not this time, though. That one actually took a deceptively long time. But I’m still left strangely unsatisfied, like watching a fat mime. Let’s see if we can get even further out of my web-savvy target demographic’s wheelhouse. Hey Blockquote; Have you got anything with that uncomfortable old person smell on it?

After Mr. Vale and his wife, Rita, moved to California, the two became a constant presence at Mr. Sinatra’s Rancho Mirage ranch. He played at the annual Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament for several years and once performed at the event in 1996.

Holy Methuselah in white pants. I haven’t seen so many geriatric bullet points since I lied about my age to join the AARP. Goddammit, members get a 15% discount at participating Denny’s restaurants and I can’t go 12 hours without a Grand Slamwich, I did what I had to do.


Source: The NY Times

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3.31.14: House Music Pioneer Frankie Knuckles – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:41 pm April 28, 2014

FRANKIE_KNUCKLES“R.I.P. CeeLo.”
Sincerely, White People

 

Sad times as Chicago-based house music legend Frankie Knuckles has died. So if you’ve driven through Chicago recently and witnessed a lot of bouncing happening on the highway, there’s a 60% chance it was someone honoring Knuckles’ memory with some serious house bumpage and a 40% chance that the city still hasn’t bothered to address their network of gaping, cavernous potholes. Fucking hell, Chicago, this isn’t The Road Warrior, fill that shit in already.

While developing his DJ persona, Knuckles became an early advocate of cutting up reel-to-reel tapes to lengthen the most exciting parts for his guests, like some sort of musical EztenZe. When the Ecstasy-fueled rave scene exploded in the 80s, Knuckles preferred to hold tight to his sexy, R&B roots, delivering aphrodisiacal grooves like some sort of musical Viagra. Sorry, I’ve been reading a lot of comment spam lately. Point is, Knuckles became a genuine producer, going so far as to convince artists to rerecord their parts exclusively for his remixes:

“[When] you’ve got someone as big as Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson sitting there saying, ‘Whatever you want, however you want it, I’ll stay here as long as you need me,’ that’s the reward right there,” Knuckles said in 2011. “All the programmers I worked with were all classically trained musicians . . . I was teaching them a different side of what it is they do. Infusing certain ideas like Debussy-esque piano over a very thick house track or bass line is something that blew their minds. It blew mine, too, but it’s something they never imagined and/or heard of before . . . We didn’t know if it would work or not, but it did.”

Despite his innovation, Knuckles’ traditional style had eroded in popularity over the years due to the crunkitization of the younger generation, what with their high-top sneakers and their ironic t-shirts and whatever the hell these things are. But it’s all part of the cycle with this kind of thing, I suppose. Eventually every trend burns out, and maybe some day Knuckles’ style will return to the fore, causing his legacy to surge mightily upward and once again bring pleasure to dark and sweaty rooms across the country, like some sort of musical Cialis. Oh, goddammit!



Source: Rolling Stone

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3.23.14: Dave Brockie, Gwar’s Oderus Urungus – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:54 pm April 16, 2014

DAVE_BROCKIEWear all the spiked gauntlets you want, they still won’t let you out of jury duty unless you say you hate the Mexicans.

 

Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, frontman for absurdist metal band Gwar, has died at the age of 50. Brockie was the final surviving original member of the band, and his death throws their future into question, although I’m sure a guy named Balsac the Jaws of Death should be able to get into a good temp agency until he can get back on his feet. Not that I don’t sympathize: I shattered a lot of dreams when I left my Greek mythology-based improv troupe, Jason and the ArgoNuts. But really, did the underground comedy scene really need another Hellanicus of Lesbos bit?

Brockie had been in a punk band named Death Piggy that staged crude plays when he founded Gwar in 1984. After meeting band member Hunter Jackson, who had created props for Death Piggy and began work on the film Scumdogs of the Universe, Brockie used the outlandish costumes created for the film to form the joke group Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh. After numerous lineup changes and the shortening of the band name, Brockie dissolved Death Piggy and led Gwar, who released their debut album Hell-O in 1988.

Gwar had a practiced silliness to everything they did, from a giant worm monster that ate audience members to giving everyone in the band goofy names, like Oderus Urungus, Jizmak Da Gusha, Flattus Maximus, and Engelbert Humperdinck. Basically, Gwar is what KISS would’ve been if Paul Stanley and his merry band of pancake makeup enthusiasts had the self-awareness necessary to realize that nobody will ever be genuinely intimidated by a bunch of dudes wearing foam rubber stilettos. Ooh, please don’t scratch my eyes out with your Lee Press-On Nails there, Mr. Space Cat!

You would think a band as offensive and relatively high-profile as Gwar would have left a path of incensed stay-at-home moms in their wake, but for whatever reason they managed to avoid having much in the way of mainstream controversy. My theory is that Gwar is the perfect example of exactly how subtle satire has to be to keep Americans from melting down into full-on “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” mode. Satire any more delicate and we’re so convinced it’s real we’ll tear a tendon reposting that shit to Facebook, but any less so and we’re opening up the gates to a thousand more years of Kevin James movies. Here’s a little chart to help you visualize just where our sexy country’s comedic comprehension falls on the spectrum of most to least subtle satire (click to enlarge, because all that high-quality comedy simply couldn’t be contained in a jpeg this size): SUBTLE_SPECTRUM

Lookin good, America! Before you know it you’ll be bragging to Canada about how you “totally get Colin Quinn’s Twitter feed now.” These colors don’t run, except occasionally from intellectual stimulation!



Source: Rolling Stone

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2.25.14: Flamenco Guitarist Paco de Lucía – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:05 pm March 5, 2014

PACO_DE_LUCIAOh man, it is simply impossible to look bad in pastel. It’s that court artist gravitas that makes every day feel as magical as your first felony arraignment hearing. [Source]

 

Rough news for the cajon industry, as Flamenco guitar legend Paco de Lucía has passed away of a heart attack while in Cancun. I know everyone loves that place, but if Mexico is so great why are their travel destinations luring in our spiciest musical icons and attacking their circulatory systems? I mean, who could resist? With their gently-swaying banyan trees, incessant tropical storms, and occasional limestone quarries, you’d be foolish not to go. And then suddenly, BAM! Cardiac arrest while you’re eating a papaya. Hey, I bet that’s what happened to Rico Suave! You expect me to believe it’s just a coincidence that we haven’t heard from that guy in over 20 years? The place is clearly a paradisaical deathtrap, and it’s time to do something about it. Man, this must be what all those rednecks were getting themselves up in such a dander about. I say build the wall already, whoever’s currently the president! I swear, that man/woman/robot/shape-shifting alien lizard/super-intelligent baby is never getting my vote again.

Introduced to music by his father, a singer of gypsy origin, he became famous for dazzling audiences with his rapid flamenco rhythms and finger work.

“The gypsies are better since they listen to music from birth. If I had not been born into my father’s house I would be nobody. I don’t believe in spontaneous genius,” de Lucia once said.

De Lucia’s beloved flamenco guitar style involved a lot of percussive techniques and cordobès hats but few to no sweet-ass dive bombs or killer squealies. Plus, I bet he couldn’t even play the “Eruption” solo right. It’s not even that hard. I would’ve gotten it right on, like, the first try if my dad didn’t show up early to pick me up from Guitar Center. YOU SAID I COULD STAY TIL SIX!

 

Source: DW

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2.17.14: Devo’s Bob Casale – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:00 am February 19, 2014

BOB_CASALEMark Mothersbaugh removes his energy dome for two and only two reasons: the playing of the national anthem and weekly fungal scalp infection treatments. Those domes are filthy.

 

One of the Devo dudes is dead, which is a surprisingly fun-sounding way to deliver sad news. I’ve really been looking for silver linings lately. Huh. I guess all those Tony Robbins seminars are finally starting to sink in.

Bob Casale played rhythm guitar and/or keyboards on every Devo record in the band’s history. He appeared on such monster hits as Whip It and That Other One, I Think They Used it in a Commercial or Something, You’d Know it if You Heard It. For my money, it’s just not a real all-ages dance party in my aunt’s basement until she cranks that one up.

The original members of Devo grew up in Akron, Ohio, and were inspired form a band after personally witnessing the Kent State massacre in 1970. “We came of age in the middle of a huge cultural war. This country was basically in the midst of a new civil war — the lines were drawn very clearly,” Bob Casale said in a 2012 interview with Under the Radar. “[We formed the band because] it was a more immediate way of self-expression that required less money and no outside permission. You try to make a film and you have to come up with the money, you need a big crew, you need to ask people for favors and get permission. If you have an idea for a song you can pretty much go into your basement with your band mates and do it.”

Devo’s name comes from a joke that band members Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis developed in art school, asserting that humanity is evolving backwards, or “devolving.” However, since the concept of evolution refers to any and all biological adaptation, and therefore has nothing to do with how intelligent a given species is, the term “devolution” is practically meaningless and borderline nonsensical. Ironically, in telling us how stupid we were becoming, Devo was actually building their image around an entirely accidental misunderstanding of a basic scientific premise. You could try to claim the band knew all this and was just being hyperaware, but I’m chalking it up to the kind of uninformed intellectual flailing that’s launched a thousand grammatically-mangled Facebook reposts. And that’s why, when someone with an art degree tells you that they “wanna open your eyes about some things going on in the world lately,” you just tell them to get back to painting your shed. The sun’s going down and you’re not dragging a lamp out there.



Source: Rolling Stone

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1.27.14: Folk Singer and Activist Pete Seeger – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:43 am January 29, 2014

PETE_SEEGERIf you were looking for Waldo, he’s between the crate of white guilt and the guy who’s only using drugs “to enhance the experience.”



Well hello there, fellow traveler! I was just spending some time with my old banjo, Fretsy Ross, singing some of our favorite non-copyright-protected songs of yore in honor of the death of folk legend Pete Seeger. You know, all the classics; the one about the guy who loved his hammer. That other one about wanting to have a hammer. And who could forget all those ones about using a hammer to murder the woman who done her man wrong? Really, a surprising amount of aggression for folk songs, when you think about it.

Yessir, in all the time that ol’ Fretsy and I been together I suppose we’ve seen some pretty monumental changes in this country of ours. We’ve watched people lose faith in their leaders and find it in anonymous internet hate mobs. We’ve seen me learning how to do the Dougie only two years too late. We’ve seen racism end like 40 goddamn times. And yet, despite all that, it seems like only yesterday when I accidentally whittled her into life after misreading a set of especially tricky IKEA end table instructions. In reality, of course, it was almost three and half weeks ago. I have to say, I’ve aged much better than she has.

Seeger, a singer-songwriter, was a major figure in the history of American folk music; he helped forge ties between the genre and political activisim. His work in political folk predated the socially charged folk that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s—he sang for the labor movement in the 1940s before joining civil rights and anti-war movements in later decades. He adapted his own version of “We Shall Overcome”, for example, and turned it into an important song in the civil rights era.

Seeger was also the guy who reportedly threatened to take a hatchet to Bob Dylan’s power supply during the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. The legend goes that Seeger wasn’t cottoning to Dylan’s newfangled hard-rockin’ ways and was protesting what he perceived to be blasphemy against traditional folk music. However, in later years Seeger would claim he actually enjoyed Dylan’s performance and was simply unhappy with the distorted quality of the audio coming over the PA system. Oh, sure, and I cry myself to sleep every night because tears are a good facial moisturizer, not because I’m trapped inside this persona I’ve created and am now forever tormented by my inability to connect with people on any kind of loving or sincere level! Ha! SORROW’D!

…God, I’m barely even human anymore.

 

Source: Pitchfork

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1.3.14: Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:11 am January 9, 2014

PHIL_EVERLYPhil’s (right) fallout with brother Don (left) was one of the more publicized breakups in modern music history. Less discussed but equally tragic was the prolonged and gradual separation of Phil’s pompadour from his scalp. I was always Team Scalp, for the record.

 

Phil Everly, one half of the Everly Brothers, the legendary musical brothers who bridged the gap between country and rock, has died at the age of 74. Careful not to confuse them with fellow legendary musical brothers Nelson, who bridged the gap between butt rock and cock rock. Kids these days just assume Daughtry came out of the ether, no respect for the forebearers.

On a personal note, the Everly Brothers have been my favorite musical duo ever since I realized that Taylor Hicks is only one person and I just had my tv next to a mirror. I… really need to see my optometrist.

You could argue that while Elvis Presley was the king of rock `n’ roll, Phil and Don Everly were its troubled princes. They sang dark songs hidden behind deceptively pleasing harmonies and were perfect interpreters of the twitchy hearts of millions of baby boomer teens coming of age in the 1950s and `60s looking to express themselves beyond the simple platitudes of the pop music of the day.

Nowadays the legacy of the Everly Brothers proudly lives on courtesy of… uh… Norah Jones and the guy from Green Day. They apparently released a rerecording of the Everly’s album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us last year, presumably retitled Songs Our Agents Told Us to Record Because Country Audiences Are an Untapped Market (Proudly Brought to You by Samsung #Authentic).

Alright, that was overly cynical, but if you can come up with a better explanation for why all of these guys spontaneously jumped ship to country just as the U.S.S. Every Other Genre capsized I’m all ears. With even the more rat-faced of the Spears sisters planning a country album it’s safe to say the plot’s been pretty thoroughly lost. Plus it’s kept Kevin Costner from bringing us that Tin Cup sequel I keep writing petitions for. It’s been 18 years, Costner! I need better closure!



Source: Billboard

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10.27.13: Lou Reed – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:46 pm October 28, 2013

LOU_REEDThey say if you can remove his leather jacket he loses all of his powers.

 

Lou Reed, rock icon/older kid pressuring you into smoking, passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Reed will be buried in a small, private ceremony, after which Lady Gaga will wear him as a hat. Ugh. Sorry, I really didn’t like that joke but my SEO guy thought it was hilarious, and he’s been saying my references need to be a lot more “twerking” lately. He drives a Honda Fit and seems really smart.

Reed’s 60s output with The Velvet Underground is often cited as the origins of punk rock, glam rock, noise rock, and, what the hell, let’s just throw zydeco in there as well since nobody ever fact-checks me. Plus, I heard he and David Bowie once totally rubbed their boners together right in front of everyone at Studio 54, but keeping that one an urban legend really adds to its mystique.

With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn.

With only a few years of rock & roll on the books at the time, The Velvet Underground managed to get in early and filth the whole operation up good and well with songs openly declaring a love for heroin and blowjobs (although if you do both at the same time they cancel each other out). Up to that point if you had a loving ode to butt sex you had to disguise that shit with a bunch of goddamn nonsense words just to get some airplay, and generations of young gay men grew up just plumb not knowing what the hell to do back there. A lot of people got unnecessarily hurt, is what I’m saying. If anything, Reed’s filthification of rock was a public service we should all be thankful for. I mean, not thankful enough to sit through Lulu or anything, but thankful nonetheless.

 

 

Source: Rolling Stone

 

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