Seven Most Memorable Musician Deaths in 2010

With the news of the death of Teena Marie over the weekend, it seems 2010 still hasn't quite finished its toll yet.

In 2010 we saw some truly tragic losses to the world of music–Lena Horne, Kate McGarrigle, Marvin Isley–but here's our list of the seven most memorable and shocking deaths this past year.

1. Derf Scratch of FEAR

Frederick Milner, better known as Derf Scratch, bass player for FEAR
from 1977-1982, passed away on July 28 after a long battle with an
unspecified illness.

Scratch was an original, founding member of the legendary punk band.Fear was formed by vocalist/guitarist Lee Ving and Scratch in 1977. The Los Angeles band's probably most notoriously remembered for their controversial performance on the 1981 Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live, per request of punk rock fan John Belushi.

Fear went on to perform the most offensive/awesome tunes possible–“I Don't Care About You,” “Beef Balogna”–peppered with the most offensive/awesome language possible. The whole thing was topped off by a slew of bussed-in punkers (which included Minor Threat/Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and Belushi himself) slam dancing around the band on stage, eventually destroying the set. The entire thing was cut short after the band jumped to “Let's Have a War.”

Shortly after Scratch's death, we spoke with Mike Watt (the Minutemen, dos, fIREHOSE, the Stooges), who shared a special musical connection with fellow bass player:

“I bought my first fender bass from Derf–I recorded Minutemen “What Makes a Man Start Fires” with that precision bass and probably more but that one for sure–he let it go for tiny monies! He was very kind man to me. He told me to not buy new bass strings but to boil old ones to make them new–econo! I have nothing but good thoughts about him cuz he always showed me respect so respect back. It broke my heart when I heard the sad news yesterday cuz I felt we lost another brother. We must be more intense before we lose more!”

Click here for Scratch's full obituary. (Vickie Chang)

2. Ronnie James Dio

3. Malcolm McLaren

Though we mostly knew him as manager to the New York Dolls and Sex Pistols and business partner of Vivienne Westwood, Malcom McLaren also had a solo music career. The punk impresario died on May 8 in Switzerland after a long battle with
cancer at the age of 64.

McLaren had a seminal role in the shaping of punk rock–helping to introduce both punk music and the punk aesthetic to the mainstream with former partner Vivienne Westwood. The two owned the legendary clothing shop on King's Road in London, Let It Rock, hawking Teddy Boy clothing and McLaren/Westwood's first designs.

The storefront later changed its name several times (Sex; Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die; Seditionaries), but both the Sex Pistols and New York Dolls would often wear Westwood's flamboyant clothing. McLaren and Westwood's son, Joseph Ferdinand Core, later helped co-found lingerie brand Agent Provocateur. Click here to read our coverage of McLaren's death. (Vickie Chang)

4. Jay Reatard

On January 13, Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., better known as Jay Reatard, passed away in his sleep while at his Memphis home. Later, it was revealed Lindsey had died of “cocaine toxicity, and that alcohol was a contributing factor in his death.”

Jay Reatard led a successful solo career, signed to Matador Records, and was also a member of the Reatards and Lost Sounds. Click here to read the Village Voice's obit.


5. Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse

It may be the saddest story yet on this list: Mark Linkous, front man of Sparklehorse, shot himself in the heart with a rifle while in Knoxville on March 6. 

Now, let's make this even bleaker: It was his second suicide attempt. In 1996, Linkous attempted to overdose while on tour with Radiohead. He lived through the consequential heart attack but had fallen unconscious with his legs pinned underneath himself for hours. As a result, he was temporarily forced to a wheelchair for six months.

Linkous was 47 at the time of his death.



6. Richie Hayward of Little Feat

Richie Hayward, founding member and drummer of country/rock/blues/etc. band Little Feat, passed away on August 12 after a battle with liver cancer. As a session musician, Hayward worked with many other noteworthy contemporaries, including like Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, the Doobie Brothers, Warren Haynes, Tom Waits, John Cale, Robert Plant, Bob Seger, Carly Simon, Stephen Stills, Warren Zevon, Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy, Arlo Guthrie and others.

7. Captain Beefheart

Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, passed away at the age of 69 after enduring many years of being stricken with multiple sclerosis.

Best known for his groundbreaking musical work that melded blues, free jazz and art-rock lunacy, Captain Beefheart's career included poetry and graphic art as well.

He met
outsider Frank Zappa, and the two formed an intense bond over music and
art. Zappa would encourage Vliet to record as Captain Beefheart and the
Magic Band, and he produced their classic Trout Mask Replica, which was named 58th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone.
He would continue his maverick musical career through the early-1980s,
when he retired the band and persona to concentrate on art.

all endeavors and personae, Captain Beefheart marched to the beat of his own
drummer (or alto sax). He will be missed by anyone with a cracked
artistic sensibility or who just loves a true American weirdo. Click here to read our original post on Captain Beefheart's passing. (Danielle Bacher)

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