The Famous and Forgotten Musicians Who Died in January 2016

“We have all been here before, we have all been here before…”

It’s only fitting that the guy who drummed on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Deja Vu album would die two deaths, one year apart. If you remember, there wasn’t any major rock ’n’ roll carnage taking place in 2015. In the days leading up to Dallas Taylor’s death last year, we’d only lost Kim Fowley, a notorious figure in the music business but not one well-known in the mainstream.

But then, at the very tail end of 2015 we lost Lemmy Kilmister and Natalie Cole. Then the Reaper took David Bowie and Glenn Frey in successive chess matches. Compared to just losing Kim Fowley this time last year, this year’s death toll year seems excessively unfortunate.

Even if you buy into the James Bond premise that you only live twice, (“One life for yourself / And one for your dreams”), Dallas Taylor dying twice exactly a year apart defies even Ian Fleming’s vivid imagination.

While you only hope some kind of insurance fraud scheme to collect double benefits was behind it, there’s really only social media to blame, particularly Facebook’s persistence that we relive everything we posted one year, two years, five years down the line.

As I pointed out in an earlier New Times article, “10 Most Criminally Overlooked Rock Deaths of 2015,” there’s always someone late to the funeral, someone who posts a story on Facebook that ran years earlier about the death of a favorite artist. Just last June, news of “Golden Girl” star Rue McClanahan’s death went viral on Twitter despite the fact that she had already died five years earlier. Clearly fans who commemorated the anniversary of her death totally blindsided the people who didn’t hear about it a half-decade before.

And that is what happened with Dallas Taylor. But entertainment websites and newspapers that are usually quick to point up their own errors anytime a name is misspelled or a credit is misattributed aren’t so quick to correct their own mistake in reporting someone’s re-death.

Take, a muckraker website that changed its story that Taylor died in 2016 to “Fans Mourn Legendary Drummer 1 Year After Death” despite still carrying the same “Breaking News” banner and a place on Dallas Taylor’s picture to click for more pic of “Saddest Deaths of 2016”.

Too bad they didn’t also delete the tell-tale readers comments:

“Hey idiots, he’s been dead a year.”

“Dallas Taylor ‘had been in failing health recently.’ That’s an understatement. He’s been dead for the past year.”

“Wikipedia is our friend- he’s BEEN dead”

For a few hours even Wikipedia had changed Taylor’s death year to 2016 before someone corrected it. So much for trusting the Internet.

Just so you won’t be caught unaware, here’s the complete roll call of every musician and noteworthy rock figure that has ACTUALLY died in 2016.
January 1: Mark B, 45 
British record producer, can be heard speaking about sampling beats at 6:23 of this documentary on British hip-hop. Cause of death is unknown, but one hopes it wasn’t aggravated by dumpster diving for new beats.
January 3: Jason Mackenroth, 46 
American drummer the Blue Man Group died of prostate cancer. Which one was he? The really blue one.

January 3: Paul Bley, 83

Canadian jazz pianist.

January 4: Robert Stigwood, 81
Served as manager for The Bee Gees, Cream and Eric Clapton for most of his career. As a film producer he gave us Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Evita. He also gave us the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie, which is as horrible as you remember it and whose soundtrack made history when it became the first album that “returned platinum” when four million copies were returned unopened to distributors.

January 5: Nick Caldwell, 71
American R&B singer was a member of The Whispers. Their 1979 hit “And the Beat Goes On” is name-checked in Talking Heads’ “Born Under Punches.”

January 7: Troy Shondell, 76, and Kitty Kallen, 94
Bad day for oldies. Shondell was an American singer, best known for the 1961 hit “This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up).” He died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Tommy James renamed his band after Shondell, and Chris Isaac was said to be a big fan of Shondell’s music and hair. Kitty Kallen, best known for the 1954 hit “Little Things Mean a Lot” died at 94. When you die at 94, they just attribute it to being old.

January 8: Otis Clay, 73, and Red Simpson, 81
Both R&B SInger Otis Clay, 73, and country singer Red Simpson both died of a heart attack the same day. Clay’s song brags about all sorts of heart-taxing habits from smoking five packs of cigarettes a day and drinking excessively to chasing women around. Simpson’s heart couldn’t have been helped with his stressful admission, “I’m a Truck.”


January 10: David Bowie

The day David Bowie died. On a personal note, the first Bowie album I ever owned was Diamond Dogs, and I joined the RCA Record Club to get it for a penny. When it arrived, the album in the sleeve was actually The Best of Jim Reeves Volume 3. When you’re expecting to hear “Future Legend,” “it’s quite a shock to hear “Bimbo” instead. Here’s where the “This ain’t rock and roll, this is genocide” debate really began for me.
January 13: Giorgio Gomelsky, 81 
Georgian-born Swiss filmmaker and early manager of The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds. In this clip he talks about starting the Crawdaddy Club where those bands got their start.

January 14: René Angélil, 73 
Canadian entertainment manager and husband of Celine Dion, died of throat cancer. Don’t worry, I’m not posting any of her songs!
January 15: Pete Huttlinger, 54 
American guitarist (John Denver, LeAnn Rimes), died of stroke. This news clip tells of two prior health scares that didn’t stop him. Sadly it didn’t give him as many extra years you’d need to give this story a happy ending.
January 16: Hubert Giraud, 94, and Gary Loizzo, 70
Giraud was a French songwriter, and he died of the same thing Kitty Kallen did. He was 94. His biggest song “Mamy Blue” was a massive worldwide hit everywhere but America. Why? Because it was sung in French!  Gary Loizzo, 70, American singer for The American Breed, died of pancreatic cancer. The band was best known for the 1967 hit “Bend Me Shape Me” and for the rest of the band going on to form Rufus with Chaka Kahn as lead vocalist.

January 17: Blowfly, 76, Mic Gillette, 64, and Dale Griffin, 67
 An overcrowded day at death’s door. First you have the death of Blowfly, 76, American musician and producer, died of liver cancer. This early rapper who would’ve been bigger on radio if he could control his language. Sample spiel: “1-2- Fuck you, 3-4, your mother’s a whore, 5-6- get a look at this dick!” Mic Gillette, 64, American brass player (Tower of Power), died of a heart attack. Not sure which guy in the horn section Mic is but obviously not everybody in the brass section got the “no t-shirts or gold lame suits onstage” memo. Dale Griffin, 67, British drummer for Mott the Hoople and British Lions hardly has to flesh out his resume. But after his death from Alzheimer’s disease, some news outlets and Youtube viodeo posters felt the need to call Buffin David Bowie’s drummer because the late Ziggy sang, wrote and produced Mott’s breakthrough hit “All The Young Dudes.”
January 18: Glenn Frey, 67
Glenn Frey dies. As a postscript to my obit about the Eagles’ hate-hate affair with the press, one New York Daily News writer Gersh Kuntzman lived up to his name by writing “Glenn Frey’s death is sad but the Eagles were a horrific band.” Next day’s headline? “I’m the most hated man in America for writing negatively about Glenn Frey and the Eagles!”

Jan. 28. Paul Kantner, 74
Paul Kantner, the Jefferson Airplane guitarist, was a songwriter and fixture of the San Francisco ’60s rock scene. He died Thursday of septic shock and organ failure, according to his publicist, who confirmed his death with the San Francisco Chronicle. Another titan of rock’s Golden Age…gone. Thanks, January.

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