IN THIS PHOTO: Aretha Franklin
Artists We Said Goodbye to in 2018
THIS is a time when we share cheer and festivity...
PHOTO CREDIT: @aliyahjam/Unsplash
and look forward to the year ahead. In music terms, critics and fans are sharing their precious memories of 2018 and the records that have moved them. Among the celebration, relaxation and positivity, there is that feeling of sadness when we look back at artists we have lost this year. Every year, sadly, sees some artist depart and, whereas 2016 was especially tragic and brutal; 2018 has seen some big names leave us. To honour them, I have put together a little compilation that highlights the artist and some of their best material. We need to be in that positive mindframe and space but, within the delight and joy, there is soberness as we remember big music names who are no longer with us. Let’s us reflect and remember some fantastic names who have given us so much but, sadly, we lost this year. They did give so much but, in so many ways, their legacy and music...
IN THIS PHOTO: Avicii
WILL never be lost.
ALL PHOTOS/IMAGES (unless credited otherwise): Getty Images
Date of Death: 15th January, 2018
Noticeable Honour: Lead singer of The Cranberries
“Dolores hadn’t had a great time in her life. But the music that came out of her despite everything was incredible. I remember first hearing Zombie in the 1990s – that was the first time I was aware of her. Her voice caught me straight away. The way it went from this beautiful, soft whisper with this real Celtic vibe, to this huge rock voice, was fabulous, really unique. She didn’t get enough credit for that.
I told her I was a fan of her band, and she told me she was a fan of the Kinks, and she had listened to us a lot growing up. We met up a few times and talked a lot about music. She talked about the problems with her dad, and how she was missing her children, about how she’d had to cancel tours, and how happy she could be making music.
We had a mutual respect. We talked about writing together – I had an idea for a song called Home, about being home again, and she understood what I was trying to say. But we never sat down to do it, and that makes me really sad. She was very kind to me, too. We said we’d meet when she was next in London, and that was that.
When I heard what had happened, I couldn’t believe it. It was so awful. It must be so awful for her family. It was an honour and a pleasure to get to know her. The world’s a poorer place without her” – Dave Davies speaking with The Guardian
Greatest Album: Everybody Else Does It, So Why Can’t We? (1993)
Choice Cut: Linger (EverybodyElse Does It, So Why Can’t We?)
PHOTO CREDIT: Redferns
Date of Death: 16th August, 2018
Noticeable Honour: The undisputed Queen of Soul
“Aretha Franklin’s voice — bred from gospel, blues and jazz, American traditions that reached indelible glory because they had to overcome America itself — made all the difference. It was how, in the words of a gospel song she loved, she got over. “You had a number of gospel singers who were filled with the spirit,” said writer Peter Guralnick. “She translated that spirit into the secular field. . . . She translated that feel and fire.” More than that, Franklin’s voice raised and defined her. Nobody came close to touching it, though she emboldened many others to follow her — Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé among them. More than any of them, Franklin possessed a roar that wasn’t merely technically breathtaking; it was also a natural and self-derived instrument that testified to her truths in ways she otherwise refused to address. Some say Franklin was insecure at times in her gift, but with something so fearsome moving through their body, mind and history, who wouldn’t be both daunted and proud?
Upon learning of her death in August, at age 76, from pancreatic cancer, Barack and Michelle Obama said in a statement, “Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”
The late keyboardist Billy Preston — who started in gospel and went on to play with Franklin, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones — put it in more rough-hewn terms: “She can sing all kinds of jive-ass songs that are beneath her. She can go into her diva act and turn off the world. But on any given night, when that lady sits down at the piano and gets her body and soul all over some righteous song, she’ll scare the shit out of you. And you’ll know — you’ll swear — that she’s still the best fuckin’ singer this fucked-up country has ever produced” – Mikal Gilmore for Rolling Stone
Greatest Album: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You (1967)
Choice Cut: Respect (I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You)
Date of Death: 22nd September, 2018
Noticeable Honour: One half of the legendary Chas & Dave
“And Chas didn’t stop writing, even when he was ill. He rewrote Sling Your Hook to make it about his cancer, and put it on our last album [2018’s A Little Bit of Us], which we recorded in Brian Juniper’s studio. He wrote a song with Paul Whitehouse recently for the new Only Fools and Horses musical. And when we played on Jools Holland in the summer, we played the last song Chas ever wrote, Wonder Where He Is Now, about fishing with his mate when he was a kid. We’re putting it out as a single soon. I thought that’d be a nice tribute for him.
The last time we saw each other we went fishing. He’d seemed to pick up a bit, started to eat properly, and I thought, hello, he’s on the up now. But sadly, it wasn’t to be. We used to have a laugh fishing. Chas used to have a little private fishing lake, and we’d go there, take our little sandwich boxes, and Joan would come along and make us a cup of tea. The last picture I’ve got of us together, we’ve got fishing rods in our hands. I’m glad I’ve got that.
I always say to people, Chas and Dave weren’t just a band, they were a way of life. Our wives were best friends – I lost my wife nine years ago, to cancer as well – and I’m godfather to his and Joan’s three children. We were so intertwined, not just in music. Every aspect of our lives. We were just together in everything” – David Peacock (Chas & Dave) speaking with The Guardian
Greatest Album: Don’t Give a Monkey’s (1979)
Choice Cut: Rabbit (Don’t Give a Monkey’s)
PHOTO CREDIT: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards
Date of Death: 10th April, 2018
Noticeable Honour: Part of the iconic vocal group the Staples Singers
“There were a lot of family acts that broke big in the 1970s, including the Osmonds, the Jackson 5, and the Partridge Family (who weren't really related, but still). But probably no family band was as polished and staggeringly talented in the pipes department as the Staple Singers. The group formed way back in 1948 as a gospel act — "Pops" Staples put his kids Cleotha, Mavis, and Pervis to work. When Pervis was drafted into the Vietnam War, formerly left-out sibling Yvonne Staples stepped up. Good timing: In 1971, the group released its first album of secular gospel-funk, The Staple Swingers. Yvonne Staples sang backup (the group's clear leader was Mavis Staples) on huge, soulful hits like "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again." Staples family friend Bill Carpenter told the New York Times that Yvonne Staples "was very content in that role. She had no desire to be a front singer, even though people in the family told her she had a great voice." Tempting and resisting sibling rivalry and resentment once more, Yvonne Staples later served as a backup singer and road manager for Mavis Staples in her solo career. Yvonne Staples, the best sister anyone could have, was 80 years old when she died on April 10” – GRUNGE
Greatest Album: Be Altitude: Respect Yourself (1981)
Choice Cut: Respect Yourself (Be Altitude: Respect Yourself)
PHOTO CREDIT: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images
Date of Death: 10th May, 2018
Noticeable Honour: Lead/founder of the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit
“It’s impossible to listen to some of Hutchison’s songs now without thinking about the circumstances surrounding his death, as well as the highly public struggles with depression that preceded it. The fact that his body was found in a body of water called the Firth of Forth, where on The Midnight Organ Fight’s “Floating in the Forth” he had imagined his own suicide (before rejecting the idea “for another day”), became the stuff of tabloid news. Or take “Swim Until You Can’t See Land,” from 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks, which seemed initially like a festival-friendly ode to persistence; its lyrics about a baptismal “drowning of the past” are tough to hear today. That Hutchison apparently couldn’t find the same relief that he brought to so many others, through his songs and his work with the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, is what’s most tragic.
Hutchison was open about his struggles from the start. The first words heard on Frightened Rabbit’s 2006 debut are, “What’s the blues when you’ve got the greys?” It was right around this time that Frightened Rabbit first released its cover of the UK electronic duo N-Trance’s rave-era hit “Set You Free.” Listening to Hutchison’s sweetly ramshackle version now, I’m struck by how his earnest delivery lends some shred of real emotion to throwaway lines like, “Only love can set you free.” Through Frightened Rabbit’s music, Hutchison gave the world so much love, and was loved in return. If it’s too late to show him that, then the least we can do is pay his generosity of spirit forward to each other, especially in those bouts of grey. After all, there’s a lot of hard times ahead” – Marc Hogan for Pitchfrork
Greatest Album: The Midnight Organ Fight (2008)
Choice Cut: Heads Roll Off (The Midnight Organ Fight)
Date of Death: 20th April, 2018
Noticeable Honour: A hugely popular Swedish record producer, D.J. and remixer
“One of the most defining moments of Avicii’s too-brief career came at the 2012 Ultra Music Festival, when Madonna appeared on stage to introduce him and their first collaboration, “Girl Gone Wild.” That the queen of pop acknowledged the then-22-year-old Tim Bergling — who died Friday at the age of 28 of undisclosed causes — as a peer and a collaborator wasn’t just a watershed moment for him, it was one for dance music as well.
But actually, a more telling moment in the Swedish superstar’s career came a year later, at Ultra in 2013, when he unveiled his new bluegrass-meets-electronic sound for the first time. Avicii opened his set with his signature hit, “Levels,” a blockbuster track that altered the face of EDM when it was first played at Ultra in 2011. But immediately afterward, Aloe Blacc took the stage to perform “Wake Me Up,” released just days earlier, live for the first time. When Blacc appeared, the crowd didn’t know what to think of fiddles and banjos onstage at an electronic music festival. He then went on to preview all of the songs that would make up his debut album, “True,” spotlighting folk singers Audra Mae and Dan Tyminski.
Although he retired from touring in 2016 for health reasons, Avicii never stopped making music. His second full-length studio album, “Stories,” came out in the fall of 2015 and featured hits “Broken Arrows” (a return to his bluegrass sound, featuring Zac Brown) and “Waiting for Love.” In 2017, he released a new 6-track EP, “Avīci,” featuring collaborations with AlunaGeorge, Rita Ora, and Sandro Cavazza. “Last year I quit performing live, and many of you thought that was it,” he wrote on his website. “But the end of live never meant the end of Avicii or my music. Instead, I went back to the place where it all made sense – the studio. The next stage will be all about my love of making music to you guys. It is the beginning of something new” – Jeremy Blacklow for Billboard
Greatest Album: True: Avicii by Avicii (2013)
Choice Cut: Levels (Levels)
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Gabrin/Redferns
Date of Death: 6th December, 2018
Noticeable Honour: The genius, much-loved lead of the band Buzzcocks
“He was innovative musically as well as lyrically, taking inspiration from David Bowie, Brian Eno, Roxy Music and the Velvet Underground, as well as from German bands such as Neu and Can. While the music of many of the punk bands remains firmly of its time, Buzzcocks’ best songs still sound fresh and inventive, mixing dense guitar patterns with infectious melodies. Their influence can be heard on bands from Primal Scream and the Jesus and Mary Chain to REM and Nirvana. Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet said, “Pete was one of Britain’s best pure pop writers, up there with Ray Davies.”
Buzzcocks achieved success with their first recording, the Spiral Scratch EP, which was released on their own label, New Hormones, in January 1977. It was one of the first independent releases of the punk era, and to the band’s surprise sold its first 1,000 copies in four days. “We made quite a bit of money from Spiral Scratch,” Shelley recalled. “It ended up selling about 16,000 copies and we were able to buy some new equipment.”
In 1981 Shelley launched his solo career with the single Homosapien, from the album of the same name, produced by the Buzzcocks producer Martin Rushent (who was about to help make Human League’s electropop epic Dare). Shelley had returned to his earlier fondness for electronica, and found himself in controversial waters when the BBC banned Homosapien for its “explicit reference to gay sex”. In 2002 Shelley commented that his sexuality “tends to change as much as the weather”. The track reached 14 on the US dance chart” – The Irish Times
Greatest Album: Another Music in a Different Kitchen (1978)
Choice Cut: Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) (Love Bites)
Date of Death: 7th September, 2018
Noticeable Honour: American rapper and singer who helped boost the career of numerous popular artists
“He helped countless artists to get exposure, whether it was taking Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper or The Internet on some of their first tours [as his support acts], or helping Vince Staples, Sza and Earl Sweatshirt with studio time, rides, production or just a conversation. He was available, always. He understood the benefit of lifting others up.
After one of the last shows he played, he came backstage and said, “For all the slow, quiet songs, people just sat there and listened – that’s all I ever wanted.” He was incredible live and he could make the crowd go wild, but there was something inside him that just wanted people to listen – to experience and appreciate the music, and that’s what happened in that moment. You could see this glow about him. It was like, “Man, I’m getting there, I’m actually becoming the artist I want to be.”
He’ll be remembered for his ability to redefine himself as a musician: look at the difference between Blue Slide Park and Swimming. But, as importantly, he’ll be remembered through those musicians he helped along the way. He was a spark to so many people. In a world dominated by ego, he led with the soul and lived by focusing on similarities rather than differences – that’s a lesson we all could use” – Christian Clancy for The Guardian
Greatest Album: Swimming (2018)
Choice Cut: Best Day Ever (Best Day Ever)
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty/Johnny Nunez
Date of Death: 8th February, 2018
Noticeable Honour: A pioneer who helped coin the genre/word ‘Hip-Hop’ and was a successful and influential M.C. and producer
“To hear Lovebug Starski tell it, he was there when the phrase “hip-hop” was coined, trading the two words back and forth while improvising lines with Cowboy of the Furious Five at a farewell party for a friend who was headed into the Army.
He incorporated the phrase into the D.J. sets he was playing in the South Bronx, helping to solidify it as lingo of the scene and inadvertently providing the opening line to “Rapper’s Delight,” the 1979 Sugarhill Gang song that would take hip-hop out of parties and onto the radio.
Decades before hip-hop was the dominant influence on American popular culture, it was the work of Bronx teenagers gathering in parks, recreation centers and clubs and improvising a new approach to music by jury-rigging old records and technology.
Lovebug Starski was a mainstay of this scene in the 1970s. He started out carrying records and equipment for the disco and funk D.J. Pete (DJ) Jones — one of the first to mix two copies of the same record — at the Starland Ballroom in the Bronx before becoming a D.J. in his own right, spinning at numerous Bronx clubs.
He was a rapper as well, one of the first to rhyme and spin records at the same time. When rapping was little more than accompanying patter to enhance a D.J. set, he was a charismatic source of party-moving phraseology, and he would also handle the microphone for other D.J.s, including a young Grandmaster Flash” – Jon Caramanica for The New York Times
Greatest Album: House Rocker (1986)
Choice Cut: Amityville (The House on the Hill) (1986 single)
Mark E. Smith
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Whitton
Date of Death: 24th January, 2018
Noticeable Honour: Acerbic, caustic and unforgettable lead of The Fall
“Mark E. Smith—the mad Mancunian genius behind The Fall, one of the most prolific, mercurial, confounding, and enduring bands of the post-punk age—has died, according to a statement from his manager, Pamela Vander. “It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith,” Vander wrote. “He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days.” Smith, who had spent previous tours in wheelchairs, had been in particularly poor health the past few months, canceling a planned weeklong residency in Brooklyn over the summer and bowing out of U.K. gigs that he’d scheduled against the advice of his own bandmates and management team—stubborn and determined to keep the group going to the very last. Smith was 60 years old, and there will never be another like him.
Smith—braying and sneering about the urban grotesques and pub-dwelling “Slates, Slags, Etc.” crowding his streets, delivered in a hyper-literary style crammed with H.P. Lovecraft references, weird fragments of crackpot history, and inscrutable inside jokes peppered with regional slang—was a singer and songwriter like absolutely no other. It’s impossible to explain his appeal to anyone (let alone someone like me, a suburban Texas kid), other than to say that you either get it or you don’t. It’s why Fall fans are notoriously tribal; merely “getting it,” a nigh-biological response to Smith’s voice in your ear, grants automatic passage to its cult, where you can waste your days scrutinizing tossed-off references to British politicians and forgotten ’50s pop idols on the Fallnet mailing list, arguing with other opinionated, smartass record geeks like yourself” – Sean O’Neal for The A.V. Club
Greatest Album: Live at the Witch Trials (1979)
Choice Cut: Mr Pharmacist (Bend Sinister)