Category Archives: Obituaries

Jazz-Rock Guitar Virtuoso and Innovator Allan Holdsworth Dies at 70

British guitarist and composer Allan Holdsworth passed away yesterday, April 16, 2017. He was 70 years old. Holdsworth was one of the finest guitarists in the jazz and rock fields, who developed a unique style and technique. His chords were admired and imitated by many.

Allan Holdsworth was born August 6, 1946 in Bradford, England. Allan Holdsworth played in some of the best progressive rock and jazz-rock bands of the 1970s: Tempest, Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime,Nucleus, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, Jean-Luc Ponty band and progressive rock supergroup UK.

 

 

Later, Allan Holdsworth released a series of solo albums and collaborations with leading jazz and fusion musicians such as Stanley Clarke and Chad Wackerman. In addition to the electric guitar he used and recorded with a new device called SynthAxe.

“There is no greater measure of a life well lived than the amount of people he had impacted, and by that measure the artist Allan Holdsworth lived a very good life. This man took a plank of wood, a few strings, and some wires and transformed people’s lives in a way that few others have. The ultimate genius of the rarest kind. One of THE greatest musicians ever lived. So much history with Allan,” said producer Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Music, who worked with Holdsworth 2001-2016.

 

 

 

Allan Holdsworth is survived by his daughters Emily and Louise, his son Sam, and his granddaughter Rori.

Jazz-Rock Fusion Pioneer Larry Coryell Dies at 73

Larry Coryell, one of the finest jazz fusion guitarists in the United States passed away on February 19, 2017 of natural causes.

He was born in Galveston, Texas on April 2, 1943 although he grew up in the Seattle, Washington area. His mother introduced him to the piano at the age of 4. Coryell later switched to guitar and played rock music while in his teens.

By 1965 he had moved to New York City and started taking classical guitar lessons. He was inspired by 1950s rock and roll, jazz guitarists and 1960s rock bands.

In the late 1960s he started fusing jazz with rock and psychedelic music. In late 1969 he recorded “Spaces”, the album for which he was most well-known. It was a spectacular guitar celebration that also included fellow guitarist John McLaughlin who was also exploring the territory between rock and jazz at the time. The album featured Miroslav Vitous on acoustic bass and Billy Cobham on drums.

Larry Coryell

In 1973, Coryell formed seminal jazz-rock band Eleventh House. The group released Introducing Eleventh House with Larry Coryell (1974), Level One (1975), Aspects (1976) and Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House at Montreux (1978).

 

 

Throughout the next decades, Coryell worked with some of the best jazz and rock musicians, releasing numerous recordings.

Coryell’s most recent albums were Night Of Jazz Guitars (In & Out Records, 2010), Montgomery (Patuxent Records, 2010), Duality (Random Act Records, 2011), The Lift (Wide Hive Records, 2013), Heavy Feel (Wide Hive Records, 2015)

 

 

Geoff Downes Statement About John Wetton

John Wetton in 2013

A statement by Geoff Downes:

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart, that I have to report we have lost my dearest friend, brother, bandmate and long term musical collaborator, John Wetton, who has passed away after a long and tenacious battle with cancer. He will be remembered as one of the world’s finest musical talents, and I for one of many was wholly blessed by his influence. It was a massive privilege for me to have worked with this genius so closely on our numerous projects together over the years. His bass playing was revolutionary. His voice was from the gods. His compositions – out of this world. His sense of melody and harmony – unreal. He was literally a ‘special one’.

But John was much more than a gigantic and unique musical talent. He was a supremely intelligent man, marked with his great observations and wisdom about life; all couched within his wicked sense of humor. The wit was dark and deep, only fully perceptible to those on his same wavelength. I was fortunate enough to be able to be on that wavelength, and discover that we had much in common. Many of his personal life experiences were reflected in his lyrical contributions to the songs. His heart was always in the music. That was John, through and through. It was always about – the music.

As a person, he was fiercely loyal, loving and generous, particularly to those he cared about. But he could be as stubborn as a mule or as gracious as a nobleman, depending on the mood that grabbed him on any particular day. There were some who couldn’t read his brilliant mind and complex personality. Some found him charming, others infuriating. But however you found John, there was no denying his rare talent as a musician and songwriter was second to none.

Both of us having been brought up with similar backgrounds in provincial England, we shared a love of many things – sport, and in particular – football, English church music, current affairs, comedy, literature, you name it….pretty much everything that 2 kids from the sticks were exposed to in our youth.

Our planets seemed to be immediately in alignment when we first met in early 1981. There was a laddish camaraderie that grew between us as we became as close as two non-related brothers could be. He was an avid reader and film enthusiast, something he pursued with great interest. This helped inspire him to some wonderful lyrics to the literally hundreds of songs we composed together. Back then, we immediately hit the ground running as we composed much of the debut ASIA album together and forged a formidable partnership which lasted right up until now. It was a wholly natural process for us, whereby we could knock out 2 or 3 songs in an afternoon. They were always greeted with our gentlemanly handshake and smiles once we had wrapped up another one in the bag.

Above all else though, his passion for life was to the fore. The battles he endured throughout were immense and well documented. Firstly with alcohol, which he so resolutely overcame, then open heart surgery and finally cancer, which sadly was to take his life in the end. He once observed to me that this disease is a “merciless assassin”. Just another example of his perception and the descriptive language that he was so richly blessed with. He took all of these battles on board with great bravery and almost a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude, tinged with his inimitable wry wit.

To say I will miss my him greatly is beyond understatement. He was such an inspiration to me. We were planning another album, but sadly he was not well enough to complete it. I feel heartbroken about this, as I knew John thought it was to be one of our finest albums to date. I remain as proud as ever of our Wetton/Downes writing partnership. I am hoping one day that I will be able to finish it, and that it will be appreciated by all those who loved his and our music, and most importantly, a legacy he would have been proud of.

Life will not be the same without him. And words are not really enough to describe the loss I feel right now, and the many friends and fans all over the World will also be feeling. It is the end of an era for all of us. But we will soldier on – the music of John Wetton needs to be heard loud and clear from the rooftops.

Dearest John, may you rest in peace brother.

X

Geoffrey

Please join me in sending our sincerest thoughts and prayers to Lisa, Dylan and the entire Wetton family at this difficult time.

Progressive Rock Icon John Wetton Dies at 67

Acclaimed rock musician John Wetton passed away this morning, Tuesday, January 31st, 2017, after a long battle against colon cancer.

John Wetton was born on June 12, 1949 in Willington, Derbyshire. He became famous as vocalist and bassist of pioneering progressive rock band King Crimson in the early 1970s. John wetton rec orded three albums with King Crimson: Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (1973), Starless and Bible Black (1974), and Red (1974)]

At the end of the 1970s, Wetton formed progressive rock supergroup UK together with Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music and Frank Zappa), Allan Holdsworth (Tempest, Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime and Gong) and Bill Bruford (Yes and King Crimson). UK released two now classic progressive rock albums, UK (1978) and Danger Money (1979).

In the early 1980s, John Wetton was one of the founders of the highly successful FM-radio oriented rock group Asia. The group released the hit song ‘Heat of the Moment’ in 1982.

John Wetton also enjoyed a fruitful solo career, including the album Battle Lines, and formed iCon with Asia bandmate Geoff Downes. In 2006 the original line-up of Asia got together again and toured the world several times to promote four new studio albums.

John Wetton had been planning to tour with Asia for the band’s upcoming US arena tour with rock band Journey and, after the success of his solo Studio Recordings Anthology, continue working on the ongoing re-issue program of his solo albums through his own Primary Purpose label.

Drumer Carl Palmer released the following statement: “With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant.

John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music. As a musician, he was both brave and innovative, with a voice that took the music of ASIA to the top of the charts around the world. His ability to triumph over alcohol abuse made him an inspiration to many who have also fought that battle.

For those of us who knew him and worked with him, his valiant struggle against cancer was a further inspiration. I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile.

May you ride easy, my old friend.”

John is survived by his recently wed wife Lisa and 18 year old son Dylan, brother Robert and mother Peggy.

The very last studio song of John Wetton’s career was the closing track on the Asia album “Gravitas” and included the lyrics “Think the best of me, till we meet again.”

headline photo: John Wetton – photo by Mike Inns

Much-admired Fusion Drummer Alphonse Mouzon Dies at 68

Composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist and actor Alphonse Mouzon passed away on Christmas Day, December 25, 2016.

Alphonse Mouzon was born on November 21st, 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended Bonds-Wilson High School where he received his early musical training under the direction of saxophonist and high school music teacher Lonnie Hamilton III. He also took some drum lessons from Charles Garner before playing concerts with the Lonnie Hamilton Band.

Following graduation from high school, Mouzon moved to New York to study music and drama at New York City College and medicine at Manhattan Medical School. Mouzon took drum lessons from jazz pianist Billy Taylor’s drummer Bobby Thomas. While attending college, Alphonse played in the pit band of the Broadway show “Promises, Promises” after being recommended by Bobby Thomas. Mouzon also worked as a medical technologist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after graduating from Manhattan Medical School. However his medical career was short lived.

By 1969, his reputation as a drummer had spread to such an extent that a medical career no longer seemed attractive. Mouzon was the rhythmic foundation for the innovative musical explorations of pianist McCoy Tyner. He was a founding member, along with keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, of the iconic fusion group Weather Report. Together with guitarist Larry Coryell, Mouzon was co-founder of The Eleventh House, the influential fusion band of the 1970s.

Alphonse Mouzon played and/or recorded with Gil Evans, Roy Ayers, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola, Les McCann, Ronnie Laws, Klaus Doldinger’s Passport, Jaco Pastorius, Ron Carter, Azar Lawrence, Joey DeFrancesco, MILES SMILES, Albert Mangelsdorff, Joachim Kuhn, Jasper van’t Hof, Michel Legrand, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Donald Bird, Chet Baker, Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Ernie Watts, Sonny Rollins, Wallace Roney, Arturo Sandoval, Christian McBride, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, George Coleman, John Klemmer, Billy Harper, Dave Grusin, Russ Freeman, George Howard, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Kenny G., Joanne Brackeen, Horace Parlan, Robin Kenyatta, Kevin Toney, Sunnie Paxson, Ross Carnegie Orchestra, Roberta Flack, Sheila E., Celia Cruz, Gloria Lynn, Gloria Coleman, Denise Williams, Freda Payne, Shirley Scott, Anita O’Day, Betty Davis, and in 1991, he performed with Miles Davis on the movie soundtrack album “Dingo”.

Mouzon also worked rock and pop stars, including Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Patrick Moraz, Tommy Bolin and Chubby Checker.

In 1992, Alphone Mouzon founded Tenacious Records. He released a series of successful albums, including “The Survivor”, “On Top Of The World”, “Early Spring”, “By All Means”, “Love Fantasy”, “Back To Jazz”, “As You Wish”, “The Night Is Still Young”, “The Sky Is The Limit”, “Distant Lover”, “Morning Sun”, “Absolute Greatest Love Songs & Ballads” “Live In Hollywood”, “Jazz In Bel-Air”.

In recent years, Mouzon performed in Europe and in the United States with his trio, quartet, or quintet and as a featured guest artist with other groups like Miles Smiles, and Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House. He also taught drums at The Alphonse Mouzon International Private Drum School in Porter Ranch, California.

Alphonse Mouzon was also an actor. He appeared along with actor Tom Hanks in the 1996 film “That Thing You Do”. Mouzon also co-starred in the 2003 film called The Highlife. He can also be seen in a 2004 movie with Michael Keaton, Margaret Collins, and Katie Holmes called “First Daughter”.

Progressive Rock Star Greg Lake Dies at 69

Greg Lake

 

Acclaimed vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and composer Greg Lake passed away on Wednesday, December 7, 2016. He was a founding member of pioneering progressive rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Gregory Stuart Lake was born on November 10, 1947 in Parkstone, Dorset, England. He started playing guitar at 12 and wrote his first song, “Lucky Man”, at the same age. He developed into a full-time musician at 17, playing in several rock bands until his colleague from Dorset, Robert Fripp invited him to join King Crimson as their vocalist and bassist.

Fripp and Lake got to know each other when they shared the same Dorset guitar teacher who taught them a wide range of music including classical pieces by Paganini and post WWII classics. Lake also listened to early American rock and roll and was inspired by Copeland and Prokofiev.

Greg Lake participated in two of King Crimson’s seminal albums, In the Court of The Crimson King (1969) and In The Wake Of Poseidon (1970).

Greg met keyboard maestro Keith Emerson during a North American tour in which Emerson’s band, The Nice shared the bill with King Crimson. Greg and Keith had a lot in common: diverse musical influences and a yearning to reinterpret classical works while creating new classics in a new musical genre.

After returning to England, Greg and Keith were introduced to Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer, by Robert Stigwood, and subsequently they formed Emerson Lake and Palmer (ELP). This was essentially the first progressive rock superband. Emerson Lake and Palmer achieved immediate fame with their debut at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

 

Emerson Lake and Palmer

 

Emerson Lake and Palmer’s self-titled first album went platinum. It was produced by Greg Lake and included Lake’s song that he had written while still in school: “Lucky Man.” This now classic song became a popular part of the band’s repertoire and was played frequently on FM radio.

 

 

With ELP,  Greg Lake recorded six platinum albums between 1970 and 1977, including “Emerson, Lake & Palmer,” “Tarkus,” “Trilogy,” “Brain Salad Surgery,” the triple live album “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends” and “Works Vol. 1“. They topped the bill at the colossal 1974 festival California Jam, playing to an audience of over 500,000 spectators.

Greg Lake was in the process of finishing his autobiography titled “Lucky Man” that is scheduled for release in 2017.

Yesterday, December 7th, I lost my best friend to a long and stubborn battle with cancer,” said Greg Lake’s manager and friend Stewart Young. “Greg Lake will stay in my heart forever, as he has always been. Despite his illness which he knew to be terminal he always took the view about his life, career and family that he was indeed a lucky man… His family would be grateful for privacy during this time of their grief. Many thanks.”

Greg Lake discography:

Solo recordings:

Too Old to Go ‘Way Little Girl/Dreams Don’t Bother Me, with The Shame (1967)
Reputation / Love, with Shy Limbs (1968)
I Believe In Father Christmas / Humbug (1975)
Greg Lake (1981)
Manoeuvres (1983)
In Concert on The King Biscuit Flower Hour (1995)
From The Beginning: The Greg Lake Retrospective (1997)
From The Underground: The Official Bootleg (1998)
From The Underground II – Deeper Into The Mine: An Official Greg Lake Bootleg (2003)
Keith Emerson and Greg Lake Live From Manticore Hall (Manticore Records, 2014)
Greg Lake / Manoeuvres (Creative Musical Arts, 2015), remastered

With King Crimson:

In The Court of The Crimson King (1969)
In The Wake of Poseidon (1970)
Epitaph (1997)
Live at the Marquee Club, 1969 (Discipline Records, 1998)

With Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1971)
Tarkus (1971);
Pictures At An Exhibition (1972)
Trilogy (1972)
Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends… (1974)
Works, Volume 1 (1977)
Works, Volume 2 (1977)
Love Beach (1978)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer In Concert (1979)
The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1980)
The Atlantic Years (1992)
Black Moon (1992)
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (1993)
Return Of The Manticore (1993)
Works Live (1993)
In The Hot Seat (1994)
Brain Salad Surgery – Special Edition (1996)
Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival (1997)
ELP Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour (1997)
Then And Now (1998)
Fanfare For The Common Man – 2 CD The Anthology (Sanctuary Records, 2001)
The Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 1 (Sanctuary Records, 2001)
The Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 2 (Sanctuary Records, 2001)
ELP Live in Poland, The Original Bootleg Series, From The Manticore Vaults (Sanctuary Records, 2003)
ELP Best of the Bootlegs The Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults, 2 CD Disc Set (Sanctuary Records, 2003)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer remixed by Steven Wilson (2012)
Tarkus remixed by Steven Wilson (2012)
Trilogy remixed by Jakko Jakszyk (2013)
Brain Salad Surgery remixed by Jakko Jakszyk (2013)
Emerson Lake & Palmer The Anthology (BMG, 2016)

With Emerson, Lake & Powell:

Emerson, Lake & Powell (1986)
Live In Concert (2003)
The Sprocket Sessions (2003)

Keyboard Maestro Allan Zavod Dies at 71

Australian jazz-rock and classical keyboard master and composer Allan Zavod passed away on November 28, 2016. Zavod played piano, synthesizers, organ and other keyboards with some of the most iconic jazz-rock artists such as Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson and Frank Zappa.

Allan Zavod was born October 16, 1945 in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a music degree at Melbourne Conservatorium in 1969. His skill as a pianist was much-admired by Duke Ellington, who after hearing him playing jazz piano, arranged for him to extend his jazz studies at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Zavod later held a post as professor of music in Berklee.

Based in the United States of America for 30 years, Zavod played, recorded and toured with many well-known international musicians such as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Cab Calloway, Billy Cobham, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson, and Frank Zappa.

Zavod played keyboards in Maynard Ferguson’s Chameleon (1974) and Life & Times by Billy Cobham (1976). After that, he joined the Jean Luc Ponty band and appeared on many of the band’s best recordings: Imaginary Voyage (1976), Enigmatic Ocean (1977), Cosmic Messenger (1978), Live (1979), A Taste for Passion (1979) and Civilized Evil (1980).

 

Mirage synth solo:

 

Mirage full piece:

 

In the 1980s and 1990s, Zavod recorded and toured with Frank Zappa. He played in the following Zappa albums: Fits Your 34B, No Matter Which 43B You Are (1985), All You Need is Glove (1985), Does Humor Belong in Music? (1986), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (1988), Guitar (1988), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (1989), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (1991), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (1992), and Cheap Thrills (1998).

In 1996, Zavod composed the score for the stage adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” that enjoyed tremendous success across Australia.

As a film composer, Zavod wrote scores for over 40 American and Australian films, documentaries, television and theater, including: a US film score with guitarist Eric Clapton; an award winning children’s film for “Shine” director Scott Hicks; a film for Disney; the Theatre production of The Hobbit; and the long running series “A Country Practice”.

In 2009 The University of Melbourne awarded Allan Zavod the Doctor of Music for his international contribution in the field of Classical Jazz Fusion, only one of 5 recipients with an earned Doctorate for composition in the 150 year history of the University.

From 2007 to 2012 Zavod was dedicated entirely to composing. During this period his orchestral works were performed in Australia and abroad.

Allan Zavod passed away at his home accompanied by his wife Christine, his son, Zac, his mother, Annie and close friends.

Donations to the family can be made at: gofundme.com/allan-zavod

Progressive Rock Drummer Gary Parra Dies

Gary Parra
Gary Parra

Various reports indicate that American drummer Gary Parra passed away on July 30, 2016.

Parra was a member of Cartoon, one of the finest American progressive rock/avant garde-rock bands in the 1980s. Cartoon released its self-titled debut album in 1981.

“Music from Left Field” was Cartoon’s second album. Both recordings are now available as a reissue titled Sortie.

Gary Parra , Scott Brazieal, and Herb Diamant later founded another innovative band called PFS.

In recent years, Gary Parra joined the space rock collective Spirits Burning.

Spanish Cosmic Style Painter Tomás C. Gilsanz Dies

Tomás Gilsanz
Tomás Gilsanz

 

Tomás C. Gilsanz, a Spanish painter specialized in dreamlike paintings passed away April 18, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. Gilsanz was also well-known for his 30-year collaboration with Spanish ambient and melodic electronic music act Neuronium.

 

Nacimiento (birth) painting by Tomás C. Gilsanz
Nacimiento (birth) painting by Tomás C. Gilsanz

 

Tomás Corral Gilsanz was born in Paris of Spanish parents. He moved to Spain at a young age, where he worked in the embossing business until he turned 40. He became a painter afterwards, exhibiting his work during the 1970s in Spain as well as the USA, Italy, France and Andorra.

He was known as the “Pintor Cósmico” (the cosmic painter) because many of his paintings were inspired by his dreams and visions. His artwork was used for science fiction book covers, record album artwork and magazines dedicated to paranormal topics.

 

From left to right: Tomás Gilsanz, Klaus Schulze and Michel Huygen
From left to right: Tomás Gilsanz, Klaus Schulze and Michel Huygen

 

Electronic music composer and musician Michel Huygen, leader of Neuronium, collaborated with Gilsanz for over 30 years. Gilsanz designed many album covers and the visual elements of Neuronium’s live shows and videos.