"In lieu of flowers, please pay someone's open bar tab." That's the request to those mourning the loss of one Randall Jacobs of Phoenix, Arizona, who died at age 65. According to his obituary, RJ, aka Uncle Bunky, "told his last joke, which cannot be printed here, on May 4th, 2020." He sounds like a real character and will be greatly missed by those who knew him. From Legacy.com:
When the end drew near, he left us with a final Bunkyism: "I'm ready for the dirt nap, but you can't leave the party if you can't find the door."
He found the door, but the party will never be the same without him.
In lieu of flowers, please pay someone's open bar tab, smoke a bowl, and fearlessly carve out some fresh lines through the trees on the gnarliest side of the mountain.
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Here's a cool 1971 performance of Kraftwerk on Beat Club. This short-lived long-haired lineup included Florian Schneider, who passed away last week, the late Klaus Dinger (Neu!), and Michael Rother (Neu! and Harmonia).
And here is Michael Rother's eulogy to Schneider in Uncut.
“Florian had a unique metal construction onstage on which he assembled his effect units and a mixer. He played an electrified violin which he ran through a fuzz box and a wah-wah pedal, and a flute which he treated with delay and a unit that changed the pitch to one octave down. Especially this flute, and the way Florian played it like a crazy fast-forward bass, was thoroughly exciting and unheard before. Unfortunately, the sound engineers who did the recordings at Beat Club (TV) and Radio Bremen didn’t understand that Florian’s contributions to our sound were much more interesting and vital than my guitar playing, and so they put Florian too low in the audio mix.
“The trio with Florian, Klaus Dinger on drums and myself on guitar only lasted for 5 or 6 months but I remember some truly exciting concerts, and everything that followed in my musical life had a connection to this beginning with Ralf and Florian. After we separated in July 1971, Klaus and I continued as a duo (Neu!) and Florian got back together with Ralf Hütter.
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And here's an even earlier 1970 lineup with Schneider, Dinger, and Ralf Hütter.
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Jerry Stiller, who most famously played Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, has died. He was 92. Along with his role as George Costanza's dad, he also appeared on screen in Zoolander, both Hairspray films, and The King of Queens. From Variety:
Though known as a comedian, Stiller was also a serious dramatic actor with a long history on Broadway.
Long before Stiller became known for his appearances on “Seinfeld” and “The King of Queens,” Stiller and Meara, were a top comedy act in the 1960s, appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” some 36 times. The pair were also members of the improv group the Compass Players, which later became Second City....
Stiller was born on June 8, 1927 in New York City. He graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in speech and drama, and he also studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village.
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Last week, we lost famed music impresario, Hal Willner, likely to COVID-19. Willner was a beloved figure throughout the music community, and in the wake of his death, there have been many touching tributes and people have been resurfacing all sorts of obscure wonders that demonstrate Willner's tremendous range and his talent for putting together unique and inspiring productions.
Yesterday, American Songwriter posted this letter that Tom Waits wrote in tribute to Willner. Read the rest
Two days ago, we lost a musical mastermind whose name few people outside of the music business may know: Hal Willner. Willner was a musical producer on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s and also produced records for Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Bill Frisell, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Laurie Anderson, and others.
I fell in love with the quirky brilliance of Hal Willner in the late 1980s through the Lorne Michaels' program, Night Music (originally called Sunday Night). Hosted by Jools Holland and David Sanborn, this weekly music variety show immediately stole my heart (and that of many other music nerds) with its laid back, Devil may care style, its eccentric and staggeringly broad line-up of performers, and the epic jams that ended the shows.
Brooklyn Vegan has put together a round-up of 33 of the most epic Night Music episodes and performances. They write:
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Having John Zorn, Marianne Faithfull and Aaron Neville in the same hour. Just to have all those emotions make sense together.”
John Zorn, Marianne Faithfull and Aaron Neville was an actual episode, by the way. Sonic Youth made their national television debut on Night Music — on an episode that also featured Diamanda Galas, the Indigo Girls, Daniel Lanois and Evan Lurie and Marc Ribot (covering The Stooges) — and so did Pixies who were on a S2 episode that also featured Sun Ra, singer-songwriter Syd Straw and dance music producer Arthur Baker.
More: Eric Clapton jammed alongside fellow bluesman Robert Cray and Twin Peaks chanteuse Julee Cruise.
We are sad to report that, according to John Prine's family, he has finally succumbed to the COVID-19 virus that he'd been battling for the past nine days. Rolling Stone writes of Prine's career:
As a songwriter, Prine was admired by Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and others, known for his ability to mine seemingly ordinary experiences — he wrote many of his classics as a mailman in Maywood, Illinois — for revelatory songs that covered the full spectrum of the human experience. There’s “Hello in There,” about the devastating loneliness of an elderly couple; “Sam Stone,” a portrait of a drug-addicted Vietnam soldier suffering from PTSD; and “Paradise,” an ode to his parents’ strip-mined hometown of Paradise, Kentucky, which became an environmental anthem. Prine tackled these subjects with empathy and humor, with an eye for “the in-between spaces,” the moments people don’t talk about, he told Rolling Stone in 2017. “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” Dylan said in 2009. “Midwestern mind-trips to the nth degree.”
We say goodbye to this great American songwriter with this performance of "Angel from Montgomery," recorded for Austin City Limits, in 2018.
Fly, Mr. Prine. Fly.
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Rolling Stone is reporting that Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, and a prolific songwriter for film, television, and theater, has died of COVID-10. He was 52-years-old.
Schlesinger had one of the most unique and busiest careers in pop. With Fountains of Wayne — a group that blended power-pop delight with indie and alt-rock sensibilities — he released five albums between 1996 and 2011. During the same period, he released six albums with his other group, Ivy, all the while building a portfolio of TV and film music. His first hit came in 1996, but it was a song engineered to sound like it was actually from the Sixties: “That Thing You Do.” The track served as the sole hit for the Wonders, the fake band at the center of Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do!; in real life, the track charted well and earned Schlesinger an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Seven years later, Schlesinger and Fountains of Wayne would notch their own career-defining hit, “Stacy’s Mom.”
Read the rest here.
Written by Schlesinger:
It is staggering to try and comprehend how many of these obits we are going to be seeing in the coming weeks and months.
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It was announced today on the Facebook pages of Robert Fripp of King Crimson, KMFDM, and several other bands, that celebrated industrial and progressive rock drummer, Bill Rieflin, has died. He apparently died of influenza.
Robert Fripp posted to his Facebook page:
Call from Tracy Rieflin in Seattle. Bill Rieflin flew from this world c. 18.50 Pacific, 18.50 UK. Tracy told Toyah and me that the day was grey, and as Bill flew away, the clouds opened and the skies were blue for about fifteen minutes. Fly well, Brother Bill! My life is immeasurably richer for knowing you.
Ministry posted to their page:
Today we lost a wonderful artist, tremendous human being, and an integral part of Ministry’s developments and success… Safe travels my brother on the way to your next universal gig.
Jared Louche of the band Chemlab (and a Pigface) wrote:
Bill Rieflin, one of the most fascinating, complicated, and creative drummers we’ve had the pleasure of watching evolve, has just died, confirmed by his friend Robert Fripp. As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough already. Fuck me.
Here is Bill and Chris Connelly performing Robert Wyatt's Sea Song.
Sail on, Bill.
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Four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, who was known for plays including "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," has died due to complications from coronavirus, his publicist said Tuesday. He was 81, and a lung cancer survivor who had chronic COPD. Read the rest
Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who created the famous ‘Konami Code,’ has died.
He was 79. Read the rest
Larry Tesler, the Xerox PARC computer scientist who coined the terms cut, copy, and paste, has died.
Born in 1945 in New York, Tesler went on to study computer science at Stanford University, and after graduation he dabbled in artificial intelligence research (long before it became a deeply concerning tool) and became involved in the anti-war and anti-corporate monopoly movements, with companies like IBM as one of his deserving targets. In 1973 Tesler took a job at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he worked until 1980. Xerox PARC is famously known for developing the mouse-driven graphical user interface we now all take for granted, and during his time at the lab Tesler worked with Tim Mott to create a word processor called Gypsy that is best known for coining the terms “cut,” “copy,” and “paste” when it comes to commands for removing, duplicating, or repositioning chunks of text.
Read the rest of his obit on Gizmodo.
[H/t Jim Leftwich]
Image: Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, California, USA - Larry Tesler Smiles at Whisper, CC BY 2.0, Link Read the rest
TV actor Robert Conrad, best known for his portrayal of Jim West on the very quirky, proto-steampunky 60s sci-fi Western, The Wild Wild West, has died. He was 84.
When I was a kid growing up in the late 60s, I loved The Wild Wild West, although frequently, I had no idea what was going on. I basically hung around for the goofy Batman-like super villains and the crazy steam-driven contraptions. Here's an example of the show at its wackiest.
Read the Robert Conrad obit on Deadline.
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Andy Gill, founding member, guitar player, and "Supreme Leader" of the hugely influencial post-punk band, Gang of Four, has died. He was 64.
Members of the current Gang of Four line-up tweeted the following:
“This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” Gang of Four wrote. “Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.”
The band continued, “One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music. And his albums and production work speak for themselves. Go give ’em a spin for him…”
Read the obit at Rolling Stone.
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"Overlooked" is a series of belated obituaries in New York Times for people of note who were overlooked at the time of their passing. Their most recent "overlooked no more" subject is Judee Sill.
Judee Sill was a 70s singer-songwriter, the first artist signed to David Geffen's Asylum Records. During her short-lived career in the early-to-mid 70s, Sill received little attention or airplay. While other singer-songwriters of the time sang about personal relationships and political protest, Sill's ethereal music explored themes of rapture, redemption, spiritual love, occult themes, and the deeper meanings of it all.
Sill's life was as troubled as her work was complex and under the radar. She was a juvenile delinquent, a junkie, and a prostitute for a time. Judee Sill died in 1979 of a drug overdose which was likely a suicide.
While she was not widely recognized during her lifetime, her music has had a significant impact on many modern artists and that influence only continues to grow. Liz Phair, Shawn Colvin, Greta Gerwig, XTC's Andy Partridge, and Warren Zevon have all cited her as an inspiration.
Read the rest of the obit here.
[H/t Jenny Hart]
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A bird rescue group in Las Vegas says one of three hat-wearing pigeons which gained popularity on social media has died.
Lofty Hopes pigeon rescue of Las Vegas tweeted the sad news this past Sunday. Read the rest
PHOTO COURTESY Universal Pictures: Danny Aiello, second from left, with Spike Lee, John Turturro, and Richard Edson in a scene from “Do the Right Thing” (1989).
Beloved blue collar tough-guy actor Danny Aiello has died. He was 86. Read the rest
Monkees star Peter Tork, who played bass and keyboard on hits like "Daydream Believer" and co-starred in the band's popular 1960s comedy TV show, has died at 77. Read the rest