Category Archives: Obituaries

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.

 

Progressive Rock Legend Keith Emerson Dies at 71

Composer, keyboardist and synthesizer pioneer Keith Emerson, passed away on March 10, 2016 in Santa Monica (California, USA). Keith Emerson was one of the one of the greatest keyboardists in rock history and a founder of legendary progressive rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Keith Noel Emerson was born November 2, 1944 in Todmorden, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. In the late 1960s, Keith Emerson’s skill as a keyboardist attracted international attention with pioneering progressive rock band The Nice. He later formed Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) in 1970. ELP became one of the most excellent and influential progressive rock groups of the 1970s.

For more details about Mr. Emerson, read the ELP biography and his Wikipedia profile

Photo: Dr. Robert Moog and Keith Emerson in the 1970s

Former Magma Saxofonist René Garber Dies

René Garber
René Garber
French progressive music saxophonist René Garber passed away August 13, 2015. Garber appeared on several essential Magma albums.

Born in Berlin in 1945, Garber played in jazz-rock group called Contrepoint and joined Magma in 1969. He performed on seminal albums such as “Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh”, “Attahk” and “Myths and Legends.” He also appeared on Magma compilations, including “Archiw I & II” and “Inedits”.

Electronic Music Innovator Dieter Moebius Dies at 71

Dieter Moebius
Dieter Moebius

 

German/Swiss electronic music composer and performer Dieter Moebius, passed away yesterday, July 20, 2015 in Germany. Moebius was a member of some of the most iconic German krautrock and electronic bands such as Cluster, Kluster and Harmonia.

Dieter Moebius was born January 16, 1944 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He studied art in Brussels (Belgium) and Berlin (Germany). In Berlin, Moebius met two other seminal artists, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler (Tangerine Dream). They founded a band called Kluster in 1969. After Schnitzler left, the remaining musicians changed the name to Cluster.

In 1973, Moebius and Roedelius created the band Harmonia with Michael Rother (Neu!). They released several recordings that decade: Musik Von Harmonia (1973), Deluxe (1975) and Tracks and Traces (1977), recorded 1976 with Brian Eno.

Ambient music pioneer Brian Eno, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Moebius released two collaborations, Cluster & Eno (1977) and After the Heat (1978).

Moebius’ most recent recordings included Kram (2009), Ding (2011), Moebius & Tietchens (2012, with Asmus Tietchens), and Nidemonex (2014).

Chris Squire, Progressive Rock Pioneer and Yes Co-Founder, Dies at 67

Chris Squire
Chris Squire

British progressive rock bassist, vocalist and composer Chris Squire passed away last night, June 27 in Phoenix, Arizona. Chris Squire was the co-founder of legendary progressive rock band Yes and was one of the first bassists in rock music to turn the bass into a solo instrument.

Christopher Russell Edward Squire was born in central London, England on March 4, 1948. He studied music and was a choirboy during his youth. This background gave him a solid background in choir arrangement and vocal techniques. He was initially inspired by English bassists like Paul McCartney and John Entwhistle.

Squire continued to develop his style and became a member of several bands, including The Selfs and The Syn (with Andrew Jackman and Peter Banks), Mabel Greer’s Toyshop (with Peter Banks and Clive Bailey) who co-wrote “Beyond and Before”, which appeared on the first Yes album.

The collaboration between Chris Squire and Jon Anderson sprang from their mutual admiration of vocal groups, especially Simon and Garfunkel. They formed the rock group Yes in 1968 and released their first LP record in 1969. The line-up included vocalist Jon Anderson, Chris Squire on bass, guitarist Peter Banks, drummer Bill Bruford and pianist Tony Kaye. Yes gained vast popularity in the 1970s and have managed to keep a faithful following throughout the past decades.

Their album Time and a Word reached number 45 on the UK Albums Chart. Peter Banks was replaced by guitarist Steve Howe, who became an essential component of the Yes sound. Howe played his first show with Yes at London’s Lyceum Theatre.

The Yes Album, the band’s third, was released in January 1971. It was the first to exclusively feature original compositions, which the band wrote and rehearsed in a rented farmhouse in Devon. Howe quickly established himself as an integral part of the Yes sound, and played a wider variety of instruments including the Spanish vihuela. The Yes Album also united the group with their long-serving producer and engineer Eddie Offord. According to Offord, the recording sessions would last for 12 hours or more.

 

 

During the 1970s, Yes released a series of masterful albums that have become classics and reference points in the progressive rock genre: Fragile (1971), Close to the Edge (1972), the live triple album Yessongs (1973), Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), Relayer (1974) and Going for the One (1977).

 

Yes - Tales from Topographic Oceans
Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans

 

The superb lengthy symphony pieces faded away with the following album, Tormato, which took Yes into a more commercial direction, with shorter, pop-style songs.

In July of 2011, Yes released their first studio album in a decade, Fly From Here. Their 20th studio album marked the band’s return with producer, Trevor Horn, who produced the band’s album 90125, in 1983 and also sang for Yes on the Drama album in 1980.

Although the band had many personnel changes over the years, Chris Squire was the only member who survived through the many versions.

 

 

“GRAMMY winner and co-founder of the iconic progressive rock band Yes, Chris Squire was an exceptional bass player and talented vocalist,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “From his humble beginnings as a church choirboy in London, to selling out arenas worldwide with Yes, it was his commitment to mastering his craft, as well as his enthusiastic demeanor, that made him one of the most respected and influential bass players of all time. We have lost an undeniably gifted musician and our heartfelt condolences go out to Chris’ family and friends, and to all of those he entertained during his impressive career.”

Chris Squire was always credited as the owner of the ‘Yes’ name. Nonetheless, the name is co-owned by Chris Squire, Alan White and Jon Anderson .

Chris Squire’s first solo work was 1975’s Fish Out Of Water, featuring Yes musicians Bill Bruford on drums and Patrick Moraz on keyboards, as well as The Syn and The Selfs musician Andrew Jackman, also on keyboards.

Chris Squire was also a member of the short-lived XYZ (eX -Yes-Zeppelin) in 1981, a group composed of Alan White (Yes) on drums and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin). XYZ recorded several demo tracks at Chris’ home studio in Virginia Water but never released anything formal.

Squire formed a short-lived band called Cinema, along with his friend Trevor Rabin on guitar, Tony Kaye on keyboard, and drummer Alan White.

Another side project was a band called Conspiracy that included guitarist billy Sherwood. The group’s self-titled debut album contained the foundation of several songs that were to appear on Yes’ recent albums.

Renaissance Keyboardist John Tout Passes Away

John Tout
John Tout
Progressive rock keyboard player John Tout passed away on May 1st, 2015 at 4:30pm from lung failure at The Royal Free Hospital in London, England.

Tout played piano and keyboards with celebrated symphonic progressive rock band Renaissance. He recorded and performed with Renaisance durings its classic eras. After the Azure d’Or tour, Tout left the group for personal reasons. He reappeared on the Renaissance reunion album “Tuscany”.

He was an amazing musician, highly contributing to the unique sound of the band from 1970 – 1980,” said Renaissance in a statement. “He was the quiet (but funny) one in the band, always very caring towards the fans and good friend to Annie Haslam, Terence Sullivan, Jon Camp and Michael Dunford. He will always be in our hearts and music!

Progressive Rock Keyboardist Guy LeBlanc Dies at 54

Guy LeBlanc with his band Nathan Mahl.
Guy LeBlanc with his band Nathan Mahl

 

Celebrated progressive rock keyboardist Guy LeBlanc passed away April 27, 2015 of kidney cancer complications. Guy LeBlanc was the founder of two significant Canadian progressive rock bands, Delerium and Nathan Mahl. He was also a member of pioneering British band Camel.

Guy LeBlanc was born October 16, 1960 in Moncton, Canada. He started taking formal lessons and playing the piano at 4, and drums at age 12. LeBlanc joined a rock band at 15, playing electric piano and synthesizers.

In 1978, LeBlanc and his friend Don Prince formed Delerium with the intention of playing and recording original material. Delerium recruited Mark Spenard, and Dan Lacasse.

The next band was Nathan Mahl. They released their first LP in 1983. Fifteen years later, the second Mahl disc came out, titled the Clever use of Shadows. The interest generated by that recording led to a performance at the first NEARfest (1999) progressive rock festival. That same year Guy LeBlanc released his first solo album Subversia.

Camel invited Guy LeBlanc to join the band in 2000. He became the group’s keyboardist and also wrote some of the new material. He left Camel in 2003 to care for his ailing wife.

The second solo album, All the Rage, came out in 2004.

In 2008, Nathan Mahl released Exodus on the Unicorn Digital label.

Guy LeBlanc was invited to rejoin Camel in March of 2013.

Discography:

With Nathan Mahl

Parallel Eccentricities (1983)
The Clever Use of Shadows (1999)
Heretik volume 1 – Body of Accusations (2000)
Heretik volume 2 – the Trial (2001)
Heretik volume 3 – the Sentence (2002)
Shadows Unbound (2003)
Live at NEARfest 1999 (2003)
Exodus (2008)
Justify (2015)

Solo albums

Subversia (1999)
All the Rage (2004)