Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer H.R. Giger died Monday, May 12, 2014. Mr. Giger, perhaps best known for his design of the monster in the science fiction film Alien by Ridley Scott, died at a Zurich hospital, succumbing to injuries due to a fall according to Sandra Mivelaz, the administrator of the H.R Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland. Mr. Giger was 74.
Born Hans Rudolf Giger in February 5, 1940 Chur, Switzerland, Mr. Giger would go on to pursue an art career that would include work on such films as Dune, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Batman Forever and Prometheus, as well as album cover artwork for Celtic Frost, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Danzig, Triptykon and Clepsydra. He also designed the stage sculpture for Mylene Farmer’s Mylenium Tour, completed the interior design for the Giger Bars in Switzerland, the Maison d’Ailleurs in Yverdon-les-Band and the Museum H. R. Giger in Gruyeres, as well as worked on the Dark Seed and Dark Seed II adventure computer games.
British artist, painter and sculptor Patrick Woodroffe died on May 10, 2014 due to a short illness according to family and friends. Known throughout the art, music and science fiction community for his colorful surrealistic painting, Mr. Woodroffe created images for album cover art, books and collaborated on the images for the film Never Ending Story II, as well as creating sculpture for at the Gruyeres Castle in Switzerland. Mr. Woodroffe was 74.
Born Patrick James Woodroffe in 1940 in Halifax, West Yorkshire, he attended and graduated from the University of Leeds in 1964. Despite a showing of pen and ink drawings at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Mr. Woodroffe did not pursue a full time art career until the early 1970s. He would go on to show paintings and etching, eventually dipping into the fantasy album cover art for progressive rock acts Strawbs, Greenslade, and Pallas; as well as rock bands Judas Priest and Stratovarius.
One of Patrick Woodroffe’s most iconic works was The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony, a beautifully-illustrated hardback book and double vinyl album released in 1979, imagined and written and illustrated by Mr. Woodroffe, with music written and performed by Dave Greenslade.
Canadian multi-instrumentalist Jeff Plewman, better known as Nash the Slash, died today. He was 66.
Jeff Plewman was born in March 26, 1948. He played electric violin and mandolin, along with harmonica, keyboards, glockenspiel, and other instruments. Nash the Slash was the founder of progressive rock band FM. After the release of FM’s iconic first album, Black Noise, Nash the Slash left the band to pursue a solo career. He later rejoined FM from 1983 to 1996.
Nash the Slash solo work included experimental music, rock and pop. He played wearing a hat, eyeglasses and surgical bandages covering his face since 1979.
His discography includes: Black noise (1977), Bedside Companion (1978), Dreams & Nightmares (1979), Hammersmith Holocaust (1980), Children of the Night (1981), Decomposing (1981), And You Thought You Were Normal), The Million Year Picnic (1984), American Band-ages (1984), Highway 61 (1991), Thrash (1999), Nosferatu (2000), Lost in Space (2001), In-A-Gadda-Da-Nash (2008), Live in London 2008 (2009), and The Reckless Use Of Electricity (2011).
In 2012, he posted the following message on his website:
“So Long and Thanks for all the Fish.
It’s time to roll up the bandages. The thrill is gone, it seems for me more than B.B. King.
I’m proud of my remarkable 40-year career in the music biz with no hit (commercial) records. As an independent artist without management, major label support or any grants whatsoever (thank you Canada Council and Factor), I toured internationally and accomplished so much. I was unique on stage and on my recordings. I refused to be slick and artificial. I opened for and toured with some of the best musicians in the world, and was regarded highly by my peers. Rolling Stone journalist Lester Bangs once reported, “Nash the Slash is the kind of opening act that makes the headliner work twice as hard”.
I created one of the first Canadian independent record labels (Cut-Throat Records) in order to release my music and merchandise to the public. I was the first Canadian musician to use a drum machine on an album (1978), at a time when drum machines were outlawed according to the bylaws of the Toronto Musicians’ Association. I was the first to record an album, ‘Decomposing’, which was listen-able at any speed, and miraculously reviewed in Playboy magazine. I composed and produced music for film and television, and for multi-media exhibitions of the surrealist paintings by my friend Robert Vanderhorst.
I hold the distinction of suing the corporate giant Pepsi Cola of Canada for one million dollars (in the Ontario Supreme Court, 1982) for ‘misappropriation of personality’; I won but received no money, just bragging rights.
I travelled across Canada, the US and Europe, and especially adored Newfoundland. I supported Gary Numan and Iggy Pop tours, and was invited to perform in Russia. I received airplay on Polish National Radio in 1979, when Poland was still behind the Iron Curtain. (Years later, a Polish fan explained to me that, because the first LPs were instrumental, there were no lyrics of ‘western decadence’ or ‘punk anarchy’ to grade the musical content as unsafe for communist consumption. Too bad no one in Poland could afford to send away for my records.)
Thanks to Bob Stone at World Records for his support and guidance in those early years, and to Vito, Rose (sadly, R.I.P.), Randy and Doug at Records on Wheels for their distribution and encouragement. Thank you to David Marsden and CFNY-FM for being the only Canadian radio to play my music (as well as the records of a multitude of rising independent Toronto bands like Drastic Measures, The Diodes, The Curse, Blue Peter and Teenage Head). My gratitude also to Randy Ellis who hosted me at his New Jersey club, City Gardens, and in his home with my two roadies and beloved dog.
Independent solo artists can’t do it alone, and I’ve been blessed to have had incredible artistic and technical support. Photographer Paul Till shot all my early album and promo photos, John Pearson drew the Nash the Slash font and logo, and James Redekop designed the CD artwork and acted as my indispensable webmaster for the past ten years. They’ve all been inspirational in their creativity, while putting up with my ornery desire to make the right artistic impression.
I am indebted to Rick Heinl of Heinl’s Violins in Toronto, an oasis of beautiful instruments. In a shop surrounded by violins and cellos worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, Heinl’s has always treated me with respect and great amusement as they repaired my chain-sawed electric violin alongside a million-dollar Stradivarius.
I fondly remember my dearly departed friend and mentor, David Pritchard. He was a man of extraordinary talent, a brilliant personality, artist, free-form DJ and composer. Last but not least, my good friend Gary Topp deserves special mention. Gary was the promoter who presented my first live performance in 1975 at his Original 99-Cent Roxy movie theatre, and gave me so much exposure at his clubs (The Horseshoe and The Edge) as well as numerous supporting concert slots with such great artists as The Stranglers, Pere Ubu and Magazine. Topper inspired me to create the Nash persona, and to this very day, makes me laugh ’til it hurts.
Finally, I would like to thank all the fans who have supported my career for so many years. I never tired of the letter-writing from and to the young and old, receiving and cherishing (to this day) their thoughts, and drawings of Nash in various poses and demeanor. I have kept many of these letters and artwork because they reflect a serious effort on the part of the fans to communicate with me… to connect.
My ‘gauza-lobotomy’ t-shirt artwork is courtesy a fan from 30 years ago. There were writers who described at great length how they listen to Nash records while toiling at their creative output, be it poetry, painting or making jewelry. There have been many who wrote about their own musical inspirations, some were gear-heads (drum machines were a popular topic of conversation). There were mandolin and violin players, even classical and jazz musicians. Many wrote for an autographed picture. There were even kids who took their Nash records to school to play for their grade five classmates, and then, I received a fan letter from the teacher. One time, a high school orchestra did an arrangement of ‘The Million-Year Picnic’. Eat your heart out, Nickelback!
A few main reasons to put Nash to rest… Live gigs don’t excite me any longer. My eccentric style/genre finds no place in the today’s scene, although it’s widely acknowledged that my sound led the way for the development of contemporary electronic/techo dance music in Canada. Even more to consider, the theft of music on the internet has devastated a very important source of my income. CD sales have dropped off considerably, and it’s due mainly to file-sharing without regard for the ownership of the recordings.
Mark Zuckerberg was recently quoted as saying that Facebook will soon go through an ‘explosion of sharing’. That may be all well and fine, but CDs are copyrighted objects containing music that is also copyrighted. The music-listening public has this misinformed idea that music is free… listening on the radio is free, so why not the internet? I don’t employ Metallica’s high-priced lawyers to chase down my millions.
A journalist once asked me to describe a typical Nash the Slash fan. I replied, ‘They just get it’. They get my references to Ray Bradbury, Boris Karloff, and even my opening quote from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was my intention to shock, but not offend.
My early musical inspirations came from classical music especially Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, the power of The Who, the inter-stellar fables of Hawkwind, the distinctly Kraut-rock riffing of Neu, Michael Rother, Ashra Temple, Amon Duul, and Kraftwerk, the drum-machine innovations of Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come and Silver Apples, the indescribably hypnotic music of Louis Thomas Hardin also known as Moondog, the oblique musical strategies of Brian Eno, and the very first dominant and melodic use of synthesizer on a commercial record anywhere on the planet by Toronto’s own Syrinx. Even before the internet, one could scour the world for inspiration and undiscovered gems.
Creativity in all its facets should be inspirational, and as such should be absorbed, its subtleties appreciated, understood and then woven into the fabric of some other person’s creative vision. I’m very pleased to have shared my creative endeavors with so many people around the world. I hope I’ve left a few breadcrumbs in the forest, to inspire others to find their own path.
The members of the renowned southern rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS) announced that Paul Goddard, the group’s bass player and a founding member of the band, died today after a brief, sudden illness. Paul Goddard was 68.
Paul Goddard was frequently singled out for the flawless and tasteful tone of his Rickenbacker 4001 and Fender P bass guitars on ARS’s string of hit singles, which began in 1977 and included “So in to You,” “Imaginary Lover,” “I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight,” “Do It Or Die” and a remake of the Classics IV’s “Spooky.” Rolling Stone magazine voted his bass solo on “Another Man’s Woman,” from the 1978 ARS live album “Are You Ready” as one of the top five bass solos of all time.
Paul Goddard had retired from touring in the mid-80s, but returned to the band in 2011. He still loved to play on road, actually more now than when the band was at its peak.
“I knew Paul when he was a guitarist, and maybe that’s why his bass playing was so musical,” singer Rodney Justo said. “And to go with that musicality was a unique sound that made him so identifiable to fans and other musicians as well. Yes, at one time he was ‘that big fat guy that played bass,’ but once he started playing, he wasn’t fat. He was a giant.”
On March 30, 2014 German drummer Harald Grosskopf reported in his Facebook page the passing of German bassist Michael Gunther, one of the founders of iconic early progressive rock band Agitation Free. The brief obituary mentioned that Michael Gunther died on March 29, 2014.
Michael “Fame” Günther was born in Berlin on December 6, 1950. He was a founding member of Agitation Free, one of the leading performers of German experimental rock music in the early 1970s. Beginning in 1967, the Berlin band developed long, free Instrumental improvisations. By 1972 Agitation Free had achieved cult status with a pioneering combination of improvisational rock mixed with electronics, world music, jazz and trance elements. During its concerts, the band experimented with liquid projectors, slides, and their own experimental films.
The Electronic Beat Studio that Agitation Free started with composer Thomas Kessler, evolved into a creative center for seminal Berlin groups such as Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream and others. Agitation Free disbanded in 1974.
During the 1970s, Michael Günther participated in various other projects, including collaborations with Heinz Lau, Group Vox, and rock band Sopwith Camel. Toward the end of Agitation Free he founded the bands Lagoona with Gustav Lütjens, Manfred Opitz and Konstantin “Bommi” Bommarius; and Bo, Fame & Friends with Gustav Lütjens, Hans Brandeis , and Konstantin “Conny” Bommarius. Gunther also worked with Harald Grosskopf, Lou Blackburn , Klaus Henrichs and others.
In 1977, Gunther put away his bass, playing only occasionally with friends in sideline bands. In recent years he worked as a computer programmer and was a consultant in the field of rock and pop music, touring, and related businesses. He was also the technical director of the Berlin Jazz Festival for nearly twenty years.
Agitation Free regrouped several times in 1998, 2007 and 2012, with Gunther back on bass.
Michael Gunther’s discography includes Agitation Free albums Malesch, 2nd, and Last, and the Shibuya Nights live album recorded in February 2007 in Tokyo, released 2011 on Esoteric Recordings.
Italian vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo, lead singer of legendary progressive rock group Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (also known as Banco) died February 21, 2014 in a car crash in Zagarolo (Rome province).
Francesco Di Giacomo was born in Siniscola, August 22, 1947. In 1971, he became the lead singer for Banco, one of the finest progressive rock bands of the 1970s. He was known for his captivating tenor voice. He also wrote most of Banco’s lyrics.
With Banco, Francesco Di Giacomo recorded various essential albums in the history of Italian progressive rock, including Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (1972), Darwin! (1972), and Io sono nato libero (1973). In 1975, the band released Banco, an album English language versions of songs from previous albums. In 1991, Banco re-recorded Darwin.
In 1989 Francesco Di Giacomo released a solo album titled Non mettere le dita nel naso (Do not put your fingers in the nose), featuring musicians from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Sam Moore.
Francesco Di Giacomo appeared in three of Fellini’s films, Satyricon (1969), Rome (1972), and Amarcord (1973).
Drummer Ricky Lawson, founder of jazz fusion band Yellowjackets and well known sideman and session drummer, died December 23, 2013 in Los Angeles of a brain aneurysm.
Ricky Lawson became a skilled drummer capable of performing numerous musical genres, including jazz, country and western, pop, rock, R&B, funk and Latin rhythms.
He cofounded the popular Los Angeles jazz fusion band Yellowjackets together with Robben Ford, Russell Ferrante, and Jimmy Haslip. Lawson recorded several albums with the band, including Yellowjackets, Mirage a Trois and Samurai Samba.
Ricky Lawson left Yellowjackets in 1986 to tour with Lionel Richie. He received a Grammy in 1986 for co-writing the hit song “And You Know That” on the album Shades, which he co-produced. He also co-wrote the Pointer Sisters’ hit “Uh-Uh” and co-produced the album Seriously Slammin and the Fattburger hit “Good News”.
Swedish composer, pianist and flutist Bjorn J:son Lindh passed away on December 21, 2013 in Nora, (Örebro County, Sweden) of a brain tumor.
Bjorn J:son Lindh was born October 25, 1944 , in Arvika, Värmlands län, Sweden. He studied at Ingesunds College of Music and Royal College of Music in Stockholm. His piano teacher was Stina Sundell. Flute teachers were Gunnar Malmgren and Erik Holmstedt.
Bjorn J:son Lindh toured and performed with various international artists, including some progressive rock acts: Jan Akkerman (Focus), Jon Hiseman (Collosseum), Swedish progressive rock band Isildurs Bane, and his good friend, guitarist Janne Schaffer .
With Isildurs Bane, Bjorn J:son Lindh appeared on Cheval (1988), The Voyage (1992), Mind Vol. 1 (1997), Mind Vol. 2 (2001) and Mind Vol. 4 (2003). He also recorded about twenty records under his own name.
For several years, Bjorn J:son Lindh wrote music for Radio Theatre, the Royal Dramatic Theatre and Stockholm City Theatre .
He was also well-known in Sweden for his music for TV series and various feature films, including The Hunters (1996), Man on the Roof (1976) and Mannen från Mallorca (1984).
Drummer Larry Martin, a leading rock and jazz fusion drummer from Spain, died November 30, 2013 of cancer.
Larry Martin was born in Madrid in 1950. During the late 1960s he played in various pop and rock bands based in Madrid, including Condes, Grim, and Spanish progressive rock pioneers Canarios.
Martin was one of the founders of seminal band Guadalquivir (1978-1984), a group that fused progressive rock with jazz fusion and flamenco. The band recorded three now classic albums: Guadalquivir (EMI-Harvest, 1978), Camino del concierto (EMI-Harvest, 1980) and Después del silencio (Caskabel, 1983).
In 1984 he took part in Jesucristo Superstar, the Spanish version of famed rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar that featured Pablo Abraira, Pedro Ruy Blas, and Sergio y Estibaliz. In 1986 he formed his own jazz and blues band called Larry Martin Band.
English bassoon and oboe player, and composer Lindsay Cooper died September 18th, 2013 of multiple sclerosis.
Lindsay Cooper played in groundbreaking Canterbury and avant-garde rock and jazz bands in the UK, including Henry Cow, Comus, National Health, News from Babel and David Thomas and the Pedestrians. She appeared on Mike Oldfield’s 1974 album Hergest Ridge.
She collaborated with many musicians, including Chris Cutler and Sally Potter, and co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group. She wrote soundtracks for film and TV and a song cycle Oh Moscow which was performed live around the world in 1987.