Bobby Womack died

Bobby Womack, the veteran singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist whose work spanned genres and decades, has passed away at the age of 70, At the moment, The cause of death has not been announced, though Womack was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013 and previously fought colon cancer.

In the early 1950s, Womack and his four brothers formed a gospel group called the Womack Brothers, later the Valentinos. They became friends with Sam Cooke, who signed them to his label, SAR Records, in 1961. Womack played guitar on Cooke’s song Twisting the Night Away. Womack would go on to marry Cooke’s widow just months after Cooke’s death in 1964.

The Valentinos’ song It’s All Over Now, written by Womack, became a huge hit for the Rolling Stones. Womack began his solo career with 1968’s Fly Me to the Moon in the US, and released several albums in the early 70s, including Understanding and Across 110th Street. In 1981, he had a hit with If You Think You’re Lonely Now, but spent most of the 80s struggling with drug addiction.

In addition to his solo work, Womack also collaborated with artists across the spectrum of genres. He toured with the Faces in 1974, worked with Janis Joplin, and played on Sly & the Family Stone’s Family Affair, Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds, Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man, and Aretha Franklin’s You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, among many other songs.

Womack was inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, and had begun to experience a career renaissance in recent years. Damon Albarn recruited Womack to appear on Gorillaz songs on Plastic Beach and The Fall. In 2012, Womack teamed up with Albarn again, as well as Richard Russell of XL Recordings to record The Bravest Man in the Universe. It marked his first album of original solo material since 1994’s Resurrection. Womack was scheduled to embark on a European tour this summer. He was at work on a new album, collaborating with Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart, and Levert.

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Gerry Goffin dies

The lyricist Gerry Goffin, who with his then-wife and songwriting partner Carole King wrote such hits as Will You Love Me Tomorrow, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Halfway to Paradise and The Loco-Motion, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 75.

Goffin, who married King in 1959 while they were in their teens, penned more than 50 top 40 hits, including Pleasant Valley Sunday for the Monkees, Crying in the Rain by the Everly Brothers and Take Good Care of My Baby by Bobby Vee. The couple divorced in 1968, but Goffin kept writing hits, including Saving All My Love for You for Whitney Houston.

King said in a statement that Goffin was her first love and had a profound impact on her life. “Gerry was a good man with a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come,” King said. “His legacy to me is our two daughters, four grandchildren, and our songs that have touched millions and millions of people, as well as a lifelong friendship.”

The Goffin & King love affair is the subject of the Tony Award-nominated musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. King, while backing the project, had avoided seeing it for months because it dredged up sad memories. She finally sat through it in April.

The musical shows the two composing their songs at Aldon Music, the Brill Building publishing company in Manhattan that also employed Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield and Carole Bayer Sager. The show ends just as King is enjoying fame for her 1971 groundbreaking solo album Tapestry. It also alleges Goffin’s womanizing and depression were causes of the breakup.

After their divorce, Goffin garnered an Academy Award nomination with Michael Masser for the theme to the 1975 film Mahogany for Diana Ross. He also earned a Golden Globe nomination for So Sad the Song in 1977 from the film Pipe Dreams.

Goffin and King were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years later. Both Goffin and King quit their day jobs to focus on music, and other songs followed, including Up on the Roof for the Drifters, One Fine Day for the Chiffons and Chains for the Cookies which was later covered by the Beatles. Goffin also collaborated with another Aldon composer, Barry Mann, on the hit Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp Bomp Bomp).

Goffin continued co-writing songs, including Tonight I Celebrate My Love, a duet recorded by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack, and the Natalie Cole classic, Miss You Like Crazy.

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Rapper DJ E-Z rock dies

Rodney Bryce, better known to the public as DJ E-Z Rock, has died at age 46.

Bryce’s death was announced in a Facebook post by longtime songwriting partner Rob Base which said R.I.P Skip” wrote Base, noting that the two had been friends since 4th grade.

DJ E-Z Rock was best known for It Takes Two, his 1988 collaboration with Rob Base. Based upon samples from James Brown and Lyn Collins’ 1972 single Think (About It), the single peaked at No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 24 in the UK, however it was eventually certified multi-platinum.

It became one of the most iconic and most sampled songs in the dance music canon, and their sampling of Brown’s iconic yelps (Woo! Yeah!) passed into the bloodstream of house and hip-hop alike. It has been sampled in songs by LL Cool J, Will Smith, Girl Talk, 2 Live Crew, Benny Blanco, Ciara, Pop Will Eat Itself, Coolio and the Black Eyed Peas to name a few.

At the moment no cause of death has been given.

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Frankie Knuckles dead at 59

The man who almost single-handely launched the House Sound of Chicago, the basis for all the modern dance music has died at the age of 59. He was one of the most important figures in modern music.

Frankie was born in the Bronx in January 1955, and became a disco DJ in the early 1970s, spinning with childhood friend and garage pioneer Larry Levan at the Continental Baths. In 1977, the Warehouse nightclub opened in Chicago, and Knuckles moved to the city to become its premier DJ. As legend has it, the music Knuckles would spin at The Warehouse became extremely popular among his regular clubgoers, who would then go to record stores to request “house” music—music spun at The Warehouse.

What Knuckles would spin evolved into its own genre, as producers used drum machines to produce less expensive version of popular dance styles. Knuckles would also begin to do his own edits, remaking disco tracks to make them work better for his dance floor.

In addition to remixing artists such as Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, and Diana Ross, Knuckles released a series of original productions, including a 1987’s Your Love and 1991’s The Whistle Song.

In 2005, he was inducted into the House Music Hall of Fame.

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Death of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, the American folk singer, songwriter and social activist who did battle with injustice in America armed with a banjo, a guitar and the transformative power of song, has died. He was 94.

A veteran of the labour, peace and civil rights movements, Seeger remained relevant as an activist into his 90s. He was equally musician and revolutionary, playing a major role in the folk music revival that began in the late 1950s while helping to craft the soundtrack of 1960s protests through such songs as We Shall Overcome, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Turn! Turn! Turn!

“At some point, Pete Seeger decided he’d be a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history,” Bruce Springsteen said at the all-star Madison Square Garden concert marking Seeger’s 90th birthday in 2009. “He’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament to the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards a more humane and justified ends,” said Springsteen, who had performed Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land with Seeger at the Lincoln Memorial concert marking President Obama’s 2008 inauguration.

He was gifted at connecting with audiences, Seeger called his ability to inspire regular folks to sing along his “cultural guerrilla tactic.” “There’s no such thing as a wrong note as long as you’re singing it,” he told the 15,000-strong crowd at his birthday celebration.

Seeger’s life of music and political activism could be summed up in The Hammer Song, the enduring anthem he wrote more than 60 years ago with his good friend Lee Hays to support the progressive political movement in the U.S. The song is best remembered by Trini Lopez. Pete liked Trini’s version adding, “I’d really rather put songs on people’s lips than in their ears.”

Seeger inspired a generation of folk singers and musicians that included the Kingston Trio and Joan Baez, who once said: “We all owe our careers to Pete Seeger.”

This is worth seeing.

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