Category Archives: Obit

Remembering Sleepy LaBeef, 1935-2019

Sleepy LaBeef, the rockabilly figure who played and toured for more than 60 years, died the day after Christmas. He was 84 and had played his last concert in September. One of the last rockabilly artists to be signed by Sun Records, LaBeef had an encyclopedic knowledge of American roots music, professing at one point [...]

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Remembering Big Bird’s Caroll Spinney

Sad to hear about the death at 85 of Caroll Spinney, a puppeteer who gave joy to generations of kids who may have never heard his name. But they sure heard of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch too, both of whom Spinney gave life (and voice) to for 40 years. News of his death [...]

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Remembering Ric Ocasek, 1944-2019

Sad to hear of the death of Ric Ocasek Sunday at 75. The man most widely known for his elegant electronic pop songs with The Cars may have been equally influential in rock for producing a number of important acts, from Suicide and Bad Brains to Jonathan Richman, Weezer and Guided by Voices. I had [...]

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Remembering Daniel Johnston, 1961-2019

Sad to hear of the death of Daniel Johnston, the prolific and singular songwriter, whose mental difficulties seemed to bring honesty and and unfettered heartbreak to his music. That he died at 58 may not be a shock. He looked to his death many times in his odd career, posed genuflecting at a gravestone with [...]

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Remembering Hal Blaine, 1929-2019

One of rock’s greatest timekeepers was stilled, as Hal Blaine died in Los Angeles Monday at age 90. A player on more than 350 Top 40 hits and 40 No. 1 records, Blaine was something of a hometown hero in Hartford, where I was working when I interviewed him in 2000, as he was about [...]

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Remembering Peter Tork, 1942-2019

Much of what we know about Peter Tork, who died Thursday at 77, is based on the character he was cast for in 1966 on “The Monkees.” There, he played the dim member, the bassist, with a blissful, childlike look in his eye as the made-for-TV band got into capers each week, even as its [...]

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Aretha Franklin’s ‘Amazing Grace’

Here’s something I wrote in May, 1999, upon the reissue of the 1972 “Amazing Grace” album by Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at 76.    It should have been the most natural thing on Earth when Aretha Franklin entered the Los Angeles New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in January 1972 at the age of 29 [...]

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Remembering Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

The decline and hospice of Aretha Franklin over the past days still didn’t prepare for the loss of her death Thursday at 76. For decades the undisputed Queen of Soul, the daughter of a Detroit pastor, helped define soul with a voice that exuded joy, pain and power like no one else. I was lucky [...]

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Remembering Philip Roth, 1933-2018

Sad to hear of the passing of one of America’s greatest writers, Philip Roth, who died Tuesday at 85. He was certainly one of my favorites and it was great honor when I had an opportunity five years ago to ask him a couple of questions. He was doing some promotion, oddly enough, for a [...]

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Remembering Dolores O’Riordan

It was shocking to hear today of the death of Dolores O’Riordan, the memorable vocalist for the Irish band The Cranberries. She was only 46. The last time I had spoken to her, in a 1999 interview amid a summer Cranberries tour, she had talked about how difficult it was in the band — at [...]

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