OBITUARY: Teddy Pendergrass (1950-2010)

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Just got word that one of the best soul vocalists of the 20th century passed away today. Teddy Pendergrass is someone who comes from a time when you heard singers and you immediately knew who it was. Why? A distinctive voice set you apart from everyone, and yet those who had voices almost became a part of a club of just… talented people.

Pendergrass represented Philadelphia from the beginning to his final days, was an important part of the Philiadelphia International roster. On the pop side, he became known for his work in Harold Melvins & The Bluenotes, whose “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” arguably became the song everyone knew Pendergrass for, although tracks like “Wake Up Everybody” and “I Miss You” were also pop radio favorites.

When he left the Blue Notes, Pendergrass went on his own and became one of the “it” men of the late 70’s when it came to sexy and sensual soul. If you wanted a late night slow jam, one would often put on one of his albums. While no one has made an accurate account, unofficially it’s safe to say his music probably helped bring a number of children into the world.

A 1982 car accident left him paralyzed, making him unable to produce the same type of live shows he was famous for, but it did not stop him from sharing his voice with the world. He started to perform again in 1985, when he was brought on stage in front of a home crowd during the Live Aid concerts, letting people know he was not a quitter. He would continue to record and perform for another 20 years before announcing his retirement, although people around the world could turn on the radio and hear him sing at any time of the day or night.

Even when he was away from the mainstream spotlight, his music was a part of the hip-hop soundscape, with tracks like “You Can’t Hide From Yourself”, “Close The Door”, “When Somebody Loves You Back”, and the classic “Love T.K.O.” entering the consciousness of a younger generation who may have only known him from their parents.

The passing of Pendergrass is a huge loss, but fortunately his bold voice and great songs will live on forever. r.i.p. Teddy.

OBITUARY: Al Martino (1927-2009)

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Al Martino was not someone “of my era”, but as someone who digs for records and goes through thrift stores, yard and garage sales, Martino is someone whose name and face came up on a regular basis. Eventually I listened and the guy was a pretty cool vocalist and interpreter of the art of pop music.

According to published articles, friends are in shock of his passing, especially since a few of them had spent time with him for dinner on Monday evening. He died on Tuesday at the age of 82, a week after celebrating his birthday.

OBITUARY: actor Dom Deluise dead at 75

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Dom DeLuise was one of the funniest men to have ever lived, and he definitely lived. I grew up with his movies, and while he was often known as Burt Reynolds‘ right hand man, for me he was always “the man”. He battled with his weight, but he was an incredible actor and someone who made a big kid like me go “wow, he’s doing his thing”.

He died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 75 years old.

r.i.p. Captain Chaos

SOME STUFFS: r.i.p. Lux Interior (vocalist for The Cramps)

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Rock’n’roll has lost another of its saints, and in truth someone who simply wanted to archive the music he grew up listening to while making an effort to perform it and take it to new, unseen and unheard levels.

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, died today in California from a heart condition he has had for years. Some reports state Interior (born Erick Lee Purkhiser) was 62 at the time of his death, while other websites list October 21, 1948 as his birthdate, which would have made him 60.

Lux Interior went out of his way to be extreme, as a man who wore make-up and stiletto heels while singing some of the best primitive rock’n’roll around, a true punk pioneer. He loved early rock’n’roll as much as he loved the twisted and bizarre, so while you heard incredible music from The Cramps, their visuals (were they latex grannies, was it Halloween, was it a horror show, or all of the above?) were meant to leave a lasting imprint, and it was through that imagery that made people take a serious listen.

Interior stood out for many reasons, but his dedication to rock’n’roll, record collecting, comic books, and the many twisted things in pop culture (and why they were popular in the first place) would make him become someone who may have wanted to be in that interior, but always found it a passion to resist. Without Lux Interior and The Cramps, the world may never have discovered the power of psychobilly music.

He is survived by his wife, Cramps guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach.

r.i.p. Odetta (folk music legend)

The world has lost another great one. Folk music legend Odetta died today at the age of 77, after going into the hospital with kidney failure. Manager Doug Yeager says the cause of death was heart disease. Her name had been mentioned a lot in recent weeks as she was hoping to perform at the inauguration of the next U.S. president, Barack Obama.

Her music and hard work in the civil rights moment kept her in the frontlines for a generation, and even as the music and trends changed, one couldn’t help but listen to find out what was on her mind.

r.i.p. Odetta

SOME STUFFS: r.i.p. Byron Lee (1935-2008)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Sad news from the world of reggae, soca, and calypso. Byron Lee passed away on Tuesday after a long bout with cancer. He was 73.

Lee was one of many Chinese/Jamaicans who made ska and reggae his own, but was one of the few Chinese musicians who gained acceptance as an artist. As the music developed and changed, Lee also developed and changed his style, leading to the development of genres and styles that may not have been entirely created by him, but he was there at its origin.

This photo here of Lee looks a bit like my grandfather too.

SOME STUFFS: r.i.p. Yma Sumac


Her music and albums have become a part of digging for records at thrift stores, garage, yard, and estate sales, and became one of many who people wanted to seek for “incredibly strange music”. Exotica, lounge, call it what you want, but for those of us who were not a part of her genereation, she was a mystery of sorts. When you listened to her music, she was quite amazing.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Yma Sumac passed away yesterday at the age of 86 after battling cancer. She had become a legend to everyone who bought her records and attended her concerts. She signed with Capitol Records in 1950 and became one of the label’s brightest stars. While she moved people of her generation, it was the people of future generations who discovered her as somewhat of an oddity only because it seemed world’s away from what anyone was listening to at the time. Upon listening, one will discover that she was far from an oddity.