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Salutes and Laments: 2001-present
30 September 1955: James Dean, the 'original' teen-rebel/screen legend died in a car crash

+ Dr Moog dead at 71 +

Dr Robert Moog, the synthesiser pioneer, has died at the age of 71. He passed away at his North Carolina home yesterday (21 August) four months after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Born on 23 May 1934 in the Queens district of New York, Moog’s instruments were made famous by bands such as The Beatles and The Doors. Moog built his first instrument – a Theremin – at the age of 14. The electronic device can be heard on The Beach Boys’ classic 'Good Vibrations'.

Moog began tinkering with early version of electronic instruments as a teenager. After writing an article about them in 1954, he opened a business building and selling theremins, machines in which pitch and volume could be controlled by the wave of a musicians' hand. Moog earned degrees in physics, electrical engineering and engineering physics before staring out on a path that would turn him into an icon for generations of modern musicians.

By 1963, Moog developed the first widely used electronic instrument, a synthesizer, whose first popular appearance was on the Monkees album 'Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.'. The instrument had its breakthrough, though, in 1969 when musician Walter (now known as Wendy) Carlos had a Grammy-winning smash with 'Switched on Bach', an album of electronic versions of Johann Sebastian Bach pieces.

Moog's synthesizers, which came with a piano-style keyboard, quickly became popular with rock musicians, who appreciated the wide range of unique sounds they could create by adjusting the various controls. Moog synthesizers appeared on the Beatles' 'Abbey Road' and the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange'.

Moog reached a bigger audience in 1971 with his more portable Minimoog Model D, which had an even wider range of variations. His devices, which were heavily used by prog rock bands of the '70s, included the Taurus bass pedal synthesizer, which gave thick bass sounds to Genesis, Rush, U2 and the Police. Songs such as Donna Summer's 1977 disco hit 'I Feel Love' were created almost entirely from Moog synthesizers, inspiring countless techno producers and artists of the 1980s and '90s.

Though digital synthesizers would eventually replace the analog ones popularized by Moog, the warm, organic tones of his instruments were rediscovered in the 1990s by a wave of musicians who sought out the original versions, spawning tribute groups such as the Moog Cookbook and a movie, 'Moog', in which artists including DJ Logic, Money Mark, Mix Master Mike, DJ Spooky and Yes' Rick Wakeman paid tribute to the inventor/musical innovator.

The MiniMoog won the Polar Prize - Sweden’s 'music Nobel Prize' - in 2001.

A message on his official website said: “Bob was warm and outgoing. He enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. He especially appreciated what Ileana (his wife) referred to as ‘the magical connection’ between music-makers and their instruments.”

No public memorial is planned, though friends and fans can express their sympathies at

Moog’s family has also established The Bob Moog Foundation dedicated to the advancement of electronic music in his memory.

Many of the late pioneer’s long-time collaborators including musicians, engineers and educators such as David Borden, John Eaton, Wendy Carlos and Rick Wakeman have agreed to sit on its executive board.

Moog had received both radiation treatment and chemotherapy to help combat his brain disease. He is survived by his wife Ileana and five children.

Dr Robert Moog: b. 23 May 1934, Queens, NYC - d. 21 August 2005, Asheville, North Carolina.

+ Al Aronowitz: legendary rock critic dead at 77 +

Rock music critic Al Aronowitz, who claimed to have introduced the Beatles to Bob Dylan and to marijuana, died of cancer at 77, his daughter said. He died on Monday, 01 August, in an Elizabeth, New Jersey hospital.

A friend of leading performers of the 1960s like Jim Morrison of The Doors and the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, Aronowitz chronicled the rock era for The New York Post.

Aronowitz was best known for arranging an August 1964 meeting between the Beatles and Bob Dylan at a New York hotel, which he later said had profound impact on 1960s pop and rock music.

"The Beatles magic was in their sound. Bob's magic was in his words. After they met, the Beatles' words got grittier, and Bob invented folk-rock," Aronowitz told The Boston Phoenix last year.

Aronowitz also claimed that Dylan wrote the hit ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ in his kitchen.
(02 August 2005)

+ 'Long' John Baldry: Legendary Brit-bluesman dies +

British bluesman ‘Long’ John Baldry has died aged 64. The singer had been fighting a chest infection for four months and passed away yesterday (22 July) at Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada, BBC News reports.

Born on 12 January 1941 in London, he owned his nickname to height of 6'7''. Although begun career by singing and touring Europe as a folk singer, he turned his attention to R&B in early 1960s when he joined Alex Korner's embryonic Blues Incorporated and appeared on seminal 'R&B At The Marquee' LP.

After a spell in Germany, he joined fellow Blues Inc refugee Cyril Davies in All-Stars and taking blues nerear to its Chicago roots rather than Korner's more jazz-flavoured variety. After Davies's death in 1964, he formed Hoochie Coochie Men and released 'Long John's Blues' LP later that year.

Fellow band member Rod Stewart followed Baldry to Brian Auger's supergroup Steampacket but without success 'Long' went solo. [Later on he took over Bluesology where certain Reg Dwight was playing keyobards. He'd later become mega-star of many sun-shades and 'haircuts' - Elton John.]

Baldry had a single number one hit in 1967 with 'Let The Heartaches Begin’', but had been cited as a strong influence on Eric Clapton and was friends with Sir Paul McCartney.

A pioneer of British Rock’n’Roll, Baldry performed during the early days at the Cavern in Liverpool before going on to work with the likes of Stewart and E. John, both of whom appeared on his solo LP 'It Ain't Easy'.

Emigrating to Canada in 1991, Baldry became know for his voiceover work and in 1998 won a Grammy nomination for his Disney narration.

He continued to record solo albums, and also played the voice of Sonic The Hedgehog’s nemesis Dr Robotnik in the video game.

'Long' John Baldry: 12 January 1941, London, UK - 22 July 2005, Vancouver, Canada
(23 July 2005)

+ Bryan Ottoson +

American Head Charge's guitarist Bryan Ottoson, the Twin Cities' best-known metal band, was found dead in a tour bus Tuesday (19 April 2005) in North Charleston, S.C. A band spokeswoman said Ottoson, 27, died in his bunk between stops on the group's tour; the cause of death was uncertain, pending an autopsy.

A North Charleston police source said Ottoson was found with a bottle of prescription drugs and that he had consumed a lot of alcohol the previous night. The band were touring with Mudvayne [CD at No. 1 Stateside].

AHC's latest CD of few months ago, ‘The Feeding’, made it to No. 15 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart. AHC rose to the top of the local metal scene in the late-1990s with wild, nearly violent stage shows and a hard-hitting industrial sound. By 2001, the band had earned a coveted slot on the OzzFest tour and a record deal with Rubin's American Recordings.

Ottoson joined the band after the recording of ‘The War of Art’. He came to the group after stints in Black Flood Diesel and A-Pod, two other popular local rock bands.

The AHC members issued the following statement: “The music world has lost a great guitarist and an even greater person with the death of our dear friend.

Bryan was a vital member of our group and a key songwriter on ‘The Feeding‘. It is our intention to honour his memory by re-joining the Mudvayne, one of Bryan's favourite bands, on the current tour. Words cannot convey the depth of our sadness, but we want our fans to be able to hear the music Bryan loved so much. He'd be pissed if we didn't continue on. We will return on the Lubbock, TX date on April 29th.”

Local [Minneapolis] rock radio station 93X (93.7 FM), which frequently played AHC's songs, had a giant memorial card for fans to sign at AudioSlave and Slipknot shows.

Bryan Ottosan - Rock in Peace. (24 April 2005)

Paul Hester RIP

Former Split Enz/Crowded House drummer Paul Hester has taken his own life. His body was found at Elsternwick Park in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton on Saturday. He was 46. News reports suggest Hester suffered from depression and had been seeing a therapist for the last 8 years. [Last December he broke up with fiancée Kashan, a singer from New Zealand.]

Peter Green, President of the Split Enz and Crowded House fanclubs broke the news to fans. "Everyone, sitting here in the office trying to figure out what to write, we are a bit messed up at the moment" his letter reads.

"Last night, our mate, and Crowded House drummer Paul Hester took his own life."

"Over the years Paul has swung the extremes of happiness and sadness, but none of us ever thought this would happen. He loved life too much, and it really seems like a bad dream that we hope we'll wake up from tomorrow."

"It doesn't seem real, but (sadly) it is."

Paul Newell Hester was born in Melbourne on 08 January 1959. His mother Ann was a jazz drummer. Hester joined Split Enz in 1983 fresh from Deckchairs Overboard. He was recruited into the band with a reference from Midnight Oil's Rob Hirst. His first album with The Enz was 'Conflicting Emotions'. He played on the hits 'Message To My Girl' and 'Strait Old Line.

When Split Enz broke up one album later after 'See Ya Round', Hester stayed with singer/songwriter Neil Finn and together with bass player Nick Seymour, was a founding member of Crowded House.

Crowded House was an international success. 'Don't Dream It's Over' became a major hit in the USA, followed by ‘Four Seasons In One Day’, ‘It‘s Only Natural’, ‘Distant Sun’ and many more. Hester left Crowded House in 1994 to spend more time with his new family [formed Largest Living Things in 1997] and the band eventually called time after the farewell show at the Sydney Opera House on 24 November 1996.

Hester recently played with Tarmac Adam, a band featuring his Crowded House band-mate Nick Seymour. He also hosted The Music Max Sessions for Australia's cable music news channel Music Max. In November 2004, he compared a program featuring his former bandmates Tim and Neil Finn. The show featured Hester reuniting with the Finn's on drums and performing their Crowded House hit 'Weather With You'. It was the last time they played together.

He leaves behind long-time girlfriend Mardi Sommerfield and two daughters Olive (8) and Sunday (10).

Neil and Tim Finn, who are on a Brit-leg of their world tour, will be joined by Nick Seymour at the Royal Albert Hall this week to pay tribute to the late drummer.

In a statement at the Finn Brothers website Neil says:

"It was with deepest sadness and shock that I learned yesterday of the passing away of one of my closest friends, Paul Hester."

"Nick Seymour will be joining Tim and me here in London today to share our grief. The Finn Brothers shows this week at the Royal Albert Hall will go ahead as we don't know what else to do at this time other than to be with those closest to us and Paul and to play music to remember him by."

"Our hearts go out to Mardi, Sunday, Olive and all of Paul's family."

Paul Hester: 08 January 1959 - 26 March 2005

Jim Capaldi RIP

Jim Capaldi, drummer with Sixties psychedelic rock group Traffic, has died aged 60 with his family at his bedside in London on Friday (28 January) from stomach cancer.

The drummer-turned-solo artist came to prominence with Traffic in the 1960s and ‘70s; the band, whose motto was “to sound like the same group but never to sound the same”, was formed in April 1967 by Capaldi, former Hellions colleague Dave Mason (guitar) and ex-Spencer Davis Group member Steve Winwood (keyboards).

Nicola James Capaldi was a son of second-generation Italian immigrants. His father, Nick, was a talented accordionist and a music teacher, who in his youth had performed a regular show on Radio Luxembourg. His mother sang and recorded with a touring troupe. Both parents encouraged him to play the piano and study music as child, but his real interest lay in the drums.

At 14 he put together his first band, and found early success as drummer with the Hellions, who won a recording deal with Pye. Unsatisfied, Capaldi moved on to form Deep feeling with the multi-talented Dave Mason and Poli Palmer, who would go on to join Family in 1969.

Deep Feeling stuck mainly to blues and soft rock but were influenced by the new sound being played at the Elbow Room, Birmingham, a melting pot of ideas and musical intrigue. After performances, Capaldi would arrange to jam with other, very different bands. He met Winwood of the Spencer Davis Group, and with Mason they conceived a new, far more adventurous band.

The ride proved not to be easy and alongside top ten hits with ‘Paper Sun’ and ‘Hole In My Shoe’ in 1967 and charting albums, Traffic’s career was full of drama: Mason left then returned; Winwood took time out for a short-lived supergroup Blind Faith, then started a solo album that turned into a Traffic reformation [sans Mason], rotating line-ups… Capaldi continued to guest on Winwood’s solo albums and the two reformed Traffic in 1994 [original member Chris Wood (flute/sax) had passed on in 1983], resulting in ‘Far From Home’ LP.

In 1972 Capaldi had travelled with his friend Bob Marley as the future superstar worked on the songs for his debut LP, ‘Catch a Fire’ - a trip that would inform his 1977 lyrics for Rico‘s ‘This is Reggae Music’. More importantly, he had used the time to create a solo album, ‘Oh How We Danced’. He then toured with a new band, the Space Cadets in 1976 but had little success. He eventually moved to Brazil with his wife where they worked together for Jubilee, a charity for street children.

Traffic eventually reformed for a five-month tour in 1993-1994, headlining 75 shows and playing to more than half a million people. They appeared at Woodstock and played ten shows with the Grateful Dead. In 1998 Capaldi worked on another reunion project, this time with Traffic’s old firebrand, Mason.

Traffic co-founder Dave Mason issued a statement yesterday following the death of his former band-mate.

"I was really saddened when I heard about Jim,” Mason commented. “I had been hoping that we would have the chance to do one last Traffic tour together before we all checked out. Jim was a great inspiration on so many Traffic songs, he was a tremendous songwriter."

"I'd known Jim since we were fifteen years old. We lived close by each other in Worcestershire. He had bands, I had bands, and we gravitated towards working together. We had the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the music business when we formed Traffic along with Chris Wood and Steve Winwood. Jim was a great collaborator and a great friend. I'll miss his lyrics, and his humour, he always had great jokes. I know we'll all miss him dearly."

Capaldi had a successful solo career that peaked with a No.4 UK hit, ‘Love Hurts’ in 1975 and he continued to make albums; his latest release is ‘Poor Boy Blue’, issued in November 2004 by SPV.

“Steve rang me when he heard this morning,” Winwood’s manager said. “He is very upset. They were very close and had plans to record and tour again. He was praying Jim would recover from his illness.”

During his career Capaldi played with some of the most influential names in the business, including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Bob Marley, Carlos Santana and the Eagles. About 25 million copies of songs that were written or co-written by Capaldi were sold in his lifetime.

Inducted into the American Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in March last year, Traffic were once considered cutting edge but are only Adult Orientated pop-rock, quirky but quaintly passé…

Jim Capaldi: b. 24 August 1944, Evesham - d. 28 January 2005, London

Eric Griffiths RIP

Eric Griffiths, the founding member of the band that became The Beatles, died on Saturday (29 January 2005) following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 64.

Griffiths formed The Quarrymen with his school pal John Lennon and was playing guitar alongside the 'Imagine' legend in July 1957 when Sir Paul McCartney came to watch the band perform in their native Liverpool, England.

McCartney and George Harrison subsequently joined the band that eventually metamorphosed into The Beatles.

As the Quarrymen became more driven toward becoming a serious Rock'n'roll band, the original schoolmate members - who had joined the group primarily for fun - slowly dropped out, including Griffiths in 1958.

However, Griffiths reunited with the other surviving founders of The Quarrymen in July 1997 for a special 40th anniversary celebration of the Liverpool church fete where Lennon and McCartney met for the first time.

Griffiths - who was diagnosed with cancer last November (04) - died at home in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is survived by his wife of 40 years and three sons.

'Dimebag' Darrell RIP

Guitarist 'Dimebag' Darrell, formerly with Pantera, was shot dead during a concert with his new band Damageplan at Columbus, Ohio.

Nathan Gale, 25, of Marysville shot four people dead, before being killed by a police officer at the gig at the Alrosa Villa Club. Guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott was shot and killed first, before the assassin targeted the crowd.

Dimebag Darrell and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, were previously with Texan thrash metal band Pantera, which formed in the early 1980s. That band topped the U.S. album charts with its 1994 release ‘Far Beyond Driven’, which also yielded a Grammy nomination. After the band's bitter break-up the brothers formed Damageplan with singer Pat Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla.

Damageplan's debut album, ‘New Found Power’ - hailed for its "violent dissonance" by Blender magazine - hit No. 38 on the U.S. charts earlier this year.

Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott - brother and bandmate of Dimebag Darrell who was shot and killed onstage on Wednesday (08 December 8) – issued a statement about the tragedy.

Vinnie Paul said that his brother will be missed mostly for his giving personality as well as his guitar playing: "With all his greatness and accomplishments on the guitar, Dime will be missed more for his giving personality, charisma, caring for others, love and most of all his heart. Twice as big as the state of Texas. Dime gave it all every day to each and every one of us and our lives have forever been hollowed without him...”

He added: “Thanks to all of you for reaching out to us in this time of our immeasurable loss. Rest in peace brother Dime."

Damageplan’s record label Atlantic Records also have issued a statement saying: "Dimebag Darrell was an exceptional musician and an extraordinary person. Along with his brother and bandmate, Vinnie Paul, he was a member of the Elektra/Atlantic family for the past 14 years, and he will be deeply missed. The bravery displayed by Damageplan, their crew, their fans, and the local police will never be forgotten."

[Original Rock column obit. follows]

The top HM guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott was shot dead on 08 Dec. 2004 during Damageplan show in Columbus, Ohio. The band had just begun their first song at the Alrosa Villa when the man opened fire, first targeting Abbott, shooting him multiple times at point-blank range.

‘Dimebag’, 38, one of metal's top axeman, and his brother, Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul, were original members of Grammy-nominated thrash rock pioneers Pantera, one of the most popular metal bands of the early 1990s. Pantera, known for its brutally hard, fast and aggressive sound, recorded four albums during the decade.

They attracted a massive cult following and the band's third release, ‘Far Beyond Driven’, debuted at No. 1 in 1994, surprising chart-watchers and critics alike. Pantera was nominated for Grammys for best metal performance in 1995 for ‘I'm Broken’ and in 2001 for ‘Revolution Is My Name’. ‘The Best of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboys’ Vulgar Hits’ made Top 10 music video sales earlier this year.

The Abbott brothers - grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, area where their father, country songwriter Jerry, owned a recording studio - formed Damageplan after falling out with Pantera’s New Orleans-based singer Phil Anselmo. The bros produced D's debut LP, ‘New Found Power’, released in February.

"Damageplan carries on the tradition Pantera started, the... hell-raising tradition we were all about," Vinnie remarked in Oct. "We do play some Pantera songs. Me and Dime wrote them, and we feel we have the right to play them. But the focus is on Damageplan."

"It took a while for some of the Pantera fans to accept it; we knew that was gonna be the case," he said. "Change is something that people have a hard time accepting. But me and Dime intended on doing this our whole lives."

'Dimebag' Darrell: b. 20 Aug. 1966, Dalas, TX - d. 08 Dec. 2004, Columbus, OH

Ol' Dirty Bastard RIP

Ol' Dirty Bastard, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, died on Saturday (13 Nov) in New York. The rapper - real name Russell Tyrone Jones would have turned 36 on Monday - had been scheduled to perform with WTC at a concert in New Jersey on Friday night, but missed the show after arriving in the NY area on a flight from Denver at 10:30 pm.

He was at Wu-Tang's studio, 36 Records LLC on West 34th Street in NYC, where he was pronounced dead at 5:04 pm. The autopsy's conclusion is accidental overdose of cocaine and Tramadol, a prescription painkiller.

ODB, easily the most eccentric of the nine Wu-Tang Clan rappers [if not the entire Hip-hop brohood], showed promise as a solo artist, but was hindered by a long series of clashes with the law, which ranged from shoplifting to making terrorist threats. The rapper, who also went by several unusual aliases (including Osirus, Dirt McGirt and Big Baby Jesus), was released from prison last year. He had served a two-year term for parole violation and drug charges.

After his release from prison and psychiatric care, ODB signed with the Roc-A-Fella and was recording as McGirt; he duetted with Macy Gray on Elton John/Kiki Dee cover of ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ for March-slotted CD. Wu-Tang reunited this summer for concerts, one being released as ‘Disciples of the 36 Chambers: Chapter 1’; there is also a WTC compilation, ‘Legends of the Wu-Tang’.

Four crew members, including ODB, appear on the ‘Blade: Trinity’ OST, due 23 Nov; WTC is also the subject of the book, ‘The Wu-Tang Manual’.

We had a unique [mis]fortune to meet the ODB character [the aptest description] once only and he was - well, on his own planet. We’d ask a question but the answer would differ as if he continued some inner dialogue. Mercifully, Method Man was around to save the day or Ed would have fried me… erm, write-up! ODB, he - nuts!

ODB: b. 15 Nov 1969 - d. 13 Nov 2004

John Peel: The champ of strays

John Peel OBE, the legendary Radio 1 presenter, has died suddenly on holiday in Peru. Mr Peel, 65, died from a heart attack last night - he leaves behind wife Sheila and four children. John Robert Parker Ravenscroft was born in Heswall (nr Liverpool) as the clouds of WWII gathered across Europe.

John Peel OBE, the champion of strays, a perennial teenager, the voice of minority, an irreplaceable man, has passed on. The end of an era, the end of a lonely opposition to the blandness of playlists, of being subservient to listeners… The original, and only remaining, DJ of Radio 1, he started off, informed and shaped tastes of many a generation.

A veritable legend of broadcasting he was only larger than life music lover. A companion, a patron and sage to many unsigned/obscure artists, a friend in the corner of a room. So many nights, coming back from a gig, he would be the sole choice. And he knew how to be human, imperfect, enthusiastic, impetuous, unpredictable: after the latest Fall recording, or the first ever spin of a latest disc from Kathmandu, he’d then blast some heavy dub!

Dave Cousins, of the Strawbs said that with The Beatles and Lonnie Donegan, Peel was the most formative influence on UK pop music. Of many a name he introduced us to, one memory remains: after punk stirred up souls and John started playing it - following years of what was then considered out-there, i.e. progressive rock - he admitted that he had not realised what had been missing in his life! Rock, adventure, noise of rebellion, excitement, antism! Back to the spiritual roots!

We felt liberated too! John Peel had the musical gnosis - knowledge of the divine. And now, where there was care, passion, love, curiosity, commitment… nothing but a hole… The ether has gone silent.

John Peel b. 30 August 1939 - d. 26 October 2004

Arthur Kane: New York Doll dies

New York Dolls bassist Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane has died aged 55 in Los Angeles. Kane had been part of the reformed line-up who played a number of shows in the UK over the summer, including gigs at the London Royal Festival Hall as part of the Morrissey curated Meltdown event. But Kane didn’t play the band’s show at the Move festival over the weekend in Manchester due to illness.

It’s reported that the bassist died (13 July) due to complications from leukaemia. Kane is the fourth member of the group to die. Guitarist Johnny Thunders died of a drug overdose in 1991 while original drummer Bill Murcia died from a drug overdose during a 1972 UK tour. His replacement Jerry Nolan also died in 1991. Johansen and guitarist Sylvian Sylvian are now the only surviving members.

The New York Dolls are cited as one of the most influential punk bands of all time, and a huge influence on UK punk, including the Sex Pistols. Their recent shows have been greeted warmly by critics and fans alike, with the band playing songs including 'Personality Crisis', 'Jet Boy' and 'Trash'.

The Dolls reunited at Morrissey's Meltdown Festival in London last month and also opened for the former Smiths' singer in May at his New York concerts. The group had been confirmed as support to the White Stripes at two Irish shows, at Dublin's Marlay Park and Belfast's Botanic Gardens on 24 and 25 August.

They are also the most recent addition to this year’s Carling Weekend at Reading and Leeds Festivals following the cancellation of The Vines. It's not yet clear whether the band's scheduled gigs will go ahead.

The Dolls are scheduled to release an album for Morrissey's Attack imprint in September, but no details have been revealed. Frontman David Johansen is believed to be in Paris and is preparing a statement on the group's future, reported Billboard. (14 July 2004)

Rick James's heart attack with drugs help

Toxicology and other tests determined that funk singer Rick James died last month from a heart attack due to an enlarged heart, with numerous drugs including methamphetamine and cocaine contributing factors, the county coroner announced Thursday.

The death was declared an accident, said coroner's spokesman David Campbell , who emphasized that none of the drugs were found to be at life-threatening levels.

"He didn't die of a drug overdose," Campbell said.

James, 56, was found dead at his Hollywood residence 06 August 2004. An autopsy was performed but the finding of the cause of death was deferred while toxicology and other tests were performed.

On Thursday the cause of death was officially listed as an enlarged heart, along with pneumonia and the "effects of multiple drugs" - including such medications as Valium, Xanax and Vicodin.

James, best known for the 1981 hit 'Super Freak', had a long history of cocaine addiction, which led to a prison term for assaulting two women.

In more recent years he suffered health problems, including a stroke. (17 Sept. 2004)

Johnny Ramone RIP

The Ramones' Johnny Ramone has died following a battle with cancer aged 55.

The guitarist passed away yesterday (15 September) at his home in LA, California. He had been battling cancer for a number of years.

A statement on the band’s website reads: "We are immensely saddened by this terrible loss. Johnny contributed in many ways to the success and greatness of the Ramones. But it was his strength and guidance, which made everybody else’s work come to an effective completion, that made him the group’s centre of gravity, providing the balance and stability that kept the band, its support crew, and the entire Ramones organization together and in rocking shape."

"Johnny’s strength came from his character, rich in decency and honesty. His sense of fairness and his strategies always pointed towards the benefit of the Ramones and their fans as an inseparable unit."

"In this moment of tragedy and darkness, let us find solace, and a cure to our pain, in the knowledge that Johnny accomplished to the limit his life’s aspirations, and in the process he made ours seem possible."

News of Johnny’s fight against cancer emerged earlier this year, when it was revealed he was in hospital.

The band's singer Joey Ramone and bassist Dee Dee Ramone have both already died. Joey succumbed to lymphatic cancer in 2001, while the bassist died from a drug overdose the following year. (16 Sept. 2004)

Paul Atkinson: a Zombie RIP

Paul Atkinson, who played guitar The Zombies, then became the music business executive who singed ABBA, has died at the age of 58.

Atkinson died peacefully in his sleep in Los Angeles on 01 April after a long battle against liver and kidney disease.

The Zombies, one of the rare bands to come out of St Albans, had hits on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1960s with songs such as 'She’s Not There' (#12 UK, #2 US), 'Tell Her No' (#42 UK, #6 US) and 'Time Of The Season' (#3 US). He later worked in A&R, signing Abba, Mr Mister and Judas Priest.

The Zombies disbanded late 1967 but reformed in 1969; it didn’t last when keyboardist Rob Argent and bassist Jim Rodford (replacement for Chris White) decided to form Argent. Colin Blunstone went on his own path…

The band also reformed for one-off in the early 1990s.

Paul Atkinson: b. 19 March 1946, Cuffey - d. 01 April 2004, Los Angeles

Les Gray: Mud singer’s cardiac arrest

Mud frontman Les Gray has died aged 57. The chart-topping glam rock star died of a heart attack at a hospital in Portugal. Gray was suffering from throat cancer.

His death comes a week before the frontman was to host a themed charity event in Glasgow, where he was to perform a duet with Alvin Stardust, reports Ananova.The show will go ahead as a tribute to Gray.

Gray, topped the charts three times during his career, with 'Tiger Feet', 'Lonely This Christmas', and 'Oh Boy'.

The band, who won a Search For A Star contest, and first appeared on the 'Basil Brush Show', split up in 1977. Gray subsequently moved to Portugal, where he remained for the past 12 years.

His widow Carol said: “He loved performing - music was a lark to him.”

Mud are one of the major influences on The Darkness. (23 Feb. 2004)

Elliott Smith 1969 - 2003

US singer-songwriter Elliott Smith has died at the age of 34. He passed away yesterday (21 October). Smith was found near death in his Los Angeles apartment after an apparent suicide attempt, according to reports.

He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center. An apparent self-inflicted knife wound was found on the body.

The musician released five albums throughout his career, including the acclaimed ‘Either/Or’ and ‘XO’ in the mid 1990s.

In 1997 Smith earned an Academy Award nomination for ‘Miss Misery’, a song which featured in the film ‘Good Will Hunting’.

At the time of his death, Smith is said to have been working on a new LP tentatively titled ‘From A Basement On The Hill’ which was due to be completed before the end of the year.

Tributes to the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith have started to come in, with Eels and Moby amongst the first to offer their sympathies. As reported yesterday, the singer passed away (21 October) at the age of 34.

His body was discovered by a friend in his Los Angeles apartment. He had a single knife wound to the body. Smith was then taken to Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center in the afternoon where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Smith’s label Dreamworks issued a statement yesterday saying, “We are deeply saddened by Elliott Smith’s tragic death and send our condolences to our family and his friends. He was perhaps his generation’s most gifted singer-sonwriter. His enormous talent could change your life with a whisper. We will miss him.”

A statement from his former label in the UK, Domino, reads: “We are all deeply saddened today by this news. Elliott was a genuinely sweet, kind and good natured person, as well as being one of the finest singer-songwriters of our generation. He will be sorely missed.”

A number of artists have also posted messages to their fans on their site including The Eels who lived in the same LA community of Silver Lake. They wrote “Eels are very saddened to hear of their friend and neighbor Elliott Smith’s death. E and Elliott had talked about doing something musical together but, sadly, never did.”

E added: “Elliott was very encouraging to me about my songs and that meant a lot to me. He was a really sweet guy that wasn’t equipped to deal with some of the cards that life dealt him. I’ll always remember walking off stage one night after playing ‘It’s A Motherfucker’ and Elliott walking up behind me in the dark and patting me on the back. That’s how I will remember him.”

Moby also posted on his website, writing, “It’s terribly sad. Elliott Smith was an amazing singer & songwriter and it’s terribly sad that he’s no longer here.”

Later, Dreamworks’ executive Lenny Waronker released a statement saying, “Elliott was the ultimate artist. When you heard his music you knew it was special, that there was something magical going on. Where he was going musically was always exciting. He was two or three steps ahead of everyone. Being around his record making process was intimidating at times because his gift and his musical knowledge were so great – as a musician, a singer, a songwriter. Sadly, he was just scratching the surface. We'll miss his music. And we’ll miss him. He was a very tender and sweet soul."

Born in 1969, Smith loved music from an early age. He released five albums, the most critically acclaimed in the mid-90s, titled ‘Either/Or’ and ‘XO’. His most mainstream success however came when his song ‘Miss Misery’ from the film ‘Good Will Hunting’ was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997.

At the time of his death Smith was working on a new album, which had a working title of ‘From A Basement On The Hill’, which was set for completion later this year. (21 Oct. 2003)

Mickey Most RIP

Mickey Most, the famous producer of acts such as Lulu, The Animals, Suzi Quatro and Kim Wilde, died on Friday, 30 May 2003. He was 64 and a victim of a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos in studios he worked all his life.

Michael Peter Hayes was born in Aldershot, Hants, and his first hits came back in the 1960s with Herman’s Hermits and the Nashville Teens. The father of three, who also produced Jeff Beck and is responsible for Hot Chocolate’s career, during the 1970s was a panellist on TV Talent show New Faces and presented music programme Revolver. His career total of No. One hits is 37.

Friend Deke Arlon said of ‘British Phil Spector’ as he was referred to in his day: “He was a remarkable talent who will leave a huge hole in the music industry.”

Jim Ward RIP

Jim Ward, guitarist for At The Drive-In, sometime member of The Mars Volta and lead singer with Sparta, has been found dead at his home in California. According to reports, the twenty-seven-year-old musician died on Sunday (25 May) from what appears to be a drugs overdose.

An official statement from the band reads as follows:

“We are very saddened to announce that our dear friend Jeremy Michael Ward of The Mars Volta and De Facto (another ATDI offshoot) passed away from an apparent drug overdose at his home in Los Angeles on May 25, 2003. He was 27 years old. He and the rest of The Mars Volta had only just returned to LA for a week of rest between legs of their support tour with Red Hot Chili Peppers. No further information is currently available.”

Dave Williams RIP

Dave Williams, the lead singer of US rock outfit Drowning Pool, was found dead on the band’s tour bus yesterday (14 August 2002). He was 30 years old. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Drowning Pool had been on tour with OzzFest when tragedy struck. The touring heavy rock revue had been in Noblesville, Indiana on Tuesday (13 August) and bands were enjoying a day off before resuming in Bristow, Virginia tonight. The OzzFest show will go ahead as scheduled, reports.

Drowning Pool rose to fame on the back of success on last year’s OzzFest. They began the tour opening on the third stage and finished it with slot on the second. They were a Main Stage band this year.

Disturbed frontman David Draiman, a friend of the band, was one of the first people to pay tribute to Williams.

“He was the sweetest man you’ll ever come across in your life,” he said. “(He) didn’t have a bad bone in his body, just very kind-hearted, very good-natured, very genuine, always trying to make everyone around him smile. (He was) always trying to bring some life to the party with his own little dramatic flair.”

“Everyone loved him. I don’t know a single person that has ever met Dave Williams and not just instantly fallen in love with him. He could charm anyone to death. He was a very special guy. It’s shocking.”

The band had planned to hit the studio after OzzFest to begin recording songs for their second album. Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx, one of the band’s heros, had signed on to work on the project.

Drowning Pool’s latest recorded offering was a cover of Metallica’s ‘Creeping Death’, set to appear on an upcoming live album documenting OzzFest 2002.

Dee Dee Ramone’s OD

Just about 14 months after passing of The Ramones singer Joey at the age of 49, the band’s bassist and co-founder of the legendary combo, Dee Dee has expired in Hollywood at exactly the same age. Early report suggests that it was an accidental OD and a syringe had been found near the body.

The Ramones were inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame few weeks back – they were formed in 1974. The punk-legends, who never wavered from their path, adopted the Ramone as a surname although there were only brothers-in-riffs. Dee Dee’s real name was Douglas Colvin. (07 June 2002)

Layne Staley RIP

Alice In Chains singer Layne Staley died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine, an autopsy has determined. As previously reported, Stanley, who was 34, was discovered at his apartment in the University district of Seattle last month (19 April) after police were called when nobody had seen the star for a number of weeks.

According to the local Seattle Times newspaper, an autopsy by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office cites his death occurred as a result of an “acute intoxication of the combined effects of opiates (heroin) and cocaine” on 05 April. The overdose is thought to be accidental.

Alice In Chains were at the forefront of the mid-‘90s grunge scene out of Seattle, one of the grunge’s leading triumvirate, together with Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Of all three frontmen Staley, a founding member of the group with guitarist Jerry Cantrell, appeared to be the most troubled and had a well-documented battle with drugs throughout his career.

Alice in Chains stopped touring in the mid-1990s, only to get together for an ‘Upplugged’ concert and four support slots on the Kiss’ re-masked tour of 1996, before Staley could take it no more.

His last recorded work was a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ for ‘The Faculty’ film soundtrack. The track was co-performed with Tom Morello (ex[?]-Rage Against The Machine) and members of defunct Porno For Pyros but they never recorded in person; Layne sang the song in a studio near his house because he was unwell to travel.

The darkly heavy and menacing sounds of downer music the band produced will continue to live through other members, in particular Jerry Cantrell’s because he’s got an album ready for release in mid-June. ‘Degradation Trip’ has quite a few moments to recall the AiC’s glory days. There is a song on the Cantrell’s second solo disc entitled ‘Bargain Basement Howard Hughes’…

Staley’s passing, in the most bizarre of turns, might give this album a shot in the arm it would have lacked otherwise. Unfortunately nothing outsells dead stars…

Layne Staley: b. 22 August 1967 at Bellevue, Washington - d. 05 April 2002 in Seattle, Wash.

Stuart Adamson RIP

Stuart Adamson, the former frontman of 80s Scottish rockers Big Country, is dead. Adamson, who had been missing from his Nashville home for several weeks, was discovered in a Hawaii hotel room in the morning of 16 December.

A statement released by his manager Ian Grant reads simply: “I cannot believe I am sitting at my desk typing this. Stuart Adamson was found dead in a hotel room in Hawaii yesterday. I have no more news other than that at present. I ask the media to leave his family alone in their grief. My heart goes out to his family, Bruce, Mark and Tony. I have just lost one of the finest people I have ever worked with or been lucky enough to know.” A cause of death has not been revealed. Adamson, 43, had been fighting alcoholism for some time. He went missing previously for a time in 1999. More news as we get it.

Stuart first came to prominence in the late 70s with Dunfermline punk band The Skids, whose hits include ‘Working For The Yankee Dollar’ and ‘Into The Valley’. But it was with Big Country, formed in 1982, that he found most success, releasing eight studio albums - the biggest selling being their second album, chart-topper ‘Steeltown’ - and 28 singles, four reaching the Top Ten: ‘Fields Of Fire (400 Miles)’, ‘Chance’, ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Look Away’.

The medical examiner’s office has revealed that Adamson died from asphyxia due to hanging. He was found by a cleaner at the Western Plaza hotel near the Honolulu airport. The tragic star went missing from his home in Nashville, Tennessee on November 7. He had left a note for his 19-year-old son Calum on November 7 reading “back by noon Sunday” - four days later. He was not seen again.

Stuart Adamson: 11 April 1958 - 16 December 2001

Aaliyah's big sleep

Air-crash kills Aaliyah

The weekend started with the really tragic news that the R'n'B superstar beauty Aaliyah expired in a crash as the plane was taking off from the Bahamas on 20 August 2001. The 22-year-old performer recently released her third, eponymous, album and was working on the 'Matrix 2' film.

She was at the Abaco Island filming a music video and was returning to Miami with 8 other Americans when Cessna developed an engine problem and the plane crashed 200 feet from the end of runaway, killing all bar one who is in a critical condition.

Aaliyah Haughton was born in Brooklyn and is a part of a soul family: her uncle Barry Hankerson founded Blackground Records and is married to Gladys Knight and one of her first mentors was R Kelly to whom she was reportedly married to for a short while.

Aaliyah was really liked and respected that even Eminem commanded a minute's silence at the Reading Festival's final night.

Aaliyah's name means 'the highest, most exalted one' and she was.