Category Archives: Sounds

The night Van Halen came to town

You know me here as mostly a music blogger.

More formally, at least when writing for our regional history magazine, I am described as “a Green Bay writer and researcher who specializes in history projects on social media” and one who “curates and contributes content for … history groups on Facebook and has done long-term Twitter (history) projects.”

Yep, that’s me, too. Earlier this month, I tweeted:

You will find nothing about this Van Halen show in the next day’s Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Nothing about how loud it was. Nothing about how hot it was. Nothing about how tightly packed it was. Nothing about David Lee Roth’s “leather pants with the ass cheeks cut out.”

For that and more, future music historians will have to mine Facebook for it. There, the story of Van Halen’s show in Green Bay on Wednesday night, Aug. 18, 1982, is told in some of the 80 comments left on my posts in two local history groups, posts that were much the same as the tweet above.

Here’s a sampling …

My friend Mark: “7,044 crazy and screaming fans. Not only was the band extremely loud, but the crowd was also one of the loudest I’ve ever been a part of considering the venue. Saw them in Milwaukee the night before (it’s a long story), so my ears were shredded. It was a great score to get Van Halen in Green Bay.”

My friend Kim, a professional drummer: “My buddy and I stood outside for almost 6 hours so we could get as close to the front as possible. That was the LAST time I EVER did that ! It was absolute bedlam. One of those crowds that was so tightly packed, you could lift your feet off of the floor. And when that crowd began to sway in any given direction, you went with it or you went down. Now I know how those poor souls felt at the infamous Who show in Cincinnati a couple of years earlier. I lasted about 45 minutes and begged a security guy to get me the fuck out of there. Threw away my shirt, got a Pepsi and stood by the sound board. Regardless, I loved the show. They even played ‘I’m So Glad’ by Skip James/Cream. The soundtrack to the summer of ’82.”

Some others from the Facebook crowd:

“I was there and I’m thinking holy shit I’m seeing the biggest band on the planet. VH forever.”

“That’s what I thought, too. #1 band in the world when they were here.”

“In the top 3 concerts I have been (to). Blew the roof off the BCVMA!”

“I was front row, best concert I ever saw.”

“It was hot, I was down front. A lot of sweat.

“I was there! I don’t remember After the Fire at all. It was LOUD. My ears rang for three days.”

“I was there. I never noticed at the time, but was later told DLR was wearing leather pants with the ass cheeks cut out.”

“That was the most memorable part! And he jumped up and down on the speakers in them.”

“I was there. Ran all the way through the field from the Midway (a hotel next to the Arena) to back of arena to catch up with Dave Lee Roth.”

“I was backstage. They catered in (fried) chicken for them, and they ran it through the exhaust fans in the dressing room. LOL. But (what) really surprised me was David Lee Roth was riding a bike around the floor of the Arena with another guy, then they went out the garage door riding past everybody tailgating and playing Frisbee to go watch the Packers practice. It was funny cause nobody even gave him a second look. I’m laughing cause I’m like, that’s David Lee Roth and no one recognized him. He did have sunglasses on, but his hair, he had the hair.”

Vicky Van Matre, who heard and saw it all while working behind the scenes at Brown County Arena shows for 31 years, from 1970 to 2001, has the last word:

“It was a fantastic night!”

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Filed under August 2022, Sounds

Last call at The Exclusive Company

The sky was crying when I left work earlier today.

It was raining lightly as I headed out to go record digging at The Exclusive Company in Green Bay for the last time. But the sky was the only thing crying.

Today was a day for smiling and celebrating what’s been so great for so long.

It wasn’t so much that everything was 80% off. It was more about spending part of one more afternoon digging through records, savoring the vibe of the place and shooting the breeze with my friend Tom, who’s worked there since 1988 and who richly deserves all the love coming his way in these final days.

Almost empty record bins at The Exclusive Company record store in Green Bay, WI, June 30, 2022

As you’d expect, the bins are pretty well picked over after two months of a liquidation sale. The vinyl is almost gone. There’s one small row of new vinyl, probably fewer than 100 records. When someone grabs an LP off the new release wall — as I did today for the last time — Tom restocks it by grabbing a new LP at random from that small row and putting it up there.

Garland Records Pacific Northwest Pandora's Box LP cover

The last LP I grabbed off the new release wall is “Garland Records: Pacific Northwest Pandora’s Box,” a comp of mostly unreleased rock cuts from 1967 to the mid-’70s on Garland Records, a small label out of Salem, Oregon. Looks like fun, and it’s on royal blue vinyl! Here’s a sample.

As I dug through the CDs, I came across a bunch of familiar sights.

Hey, there’s Neil Diamond’s “Tap Root Manuscript,” one of the first records I ever bought 50 or so years ago. Hey, there’s “100 Days, 100 Nights,” the first new Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings record I ever bought. Hey, there’s one from a California group my friend Derek See played in 10 years ago (and I have that one on red vinyl.)

There are still a bunch of CDs left, but not so many that I can’t look through them all, and I found these.

Neal Francis In Plain Sight LP cover

Neal Francis is a Chicago singer-songwriter and keyboard player. He’s managed by Brendan O’Connell, whom I met a couple of times when he played keyboards and sang and wrote songs for The Right Now, a solid pop-soul group also from Chicago. My friend Bruce Warren at the mighty WXPN radio out of Philadelphia tipped me to this one.

“Can’t Stop The Rain,” Neal Francis, from “In Plain Sight,” 2021. Derek Trucks plays slide guitar on this one.

Inexplicably, there also were a bunch of Tony Joe White CDs. However, I already have a bunch of Tony Joe White records. Except this one.

Tony Joe White That On The Road Look Live LP cover

It’s a scorching, blistering, steaming, smoking live show from 1971, not released until 2010 and not seen by me until today. No one knows for sure where this show was. White thought maybe it was one of their opening gigs for Creedence Clearwater Revival in Europe, maybe at Royal Albert Hall in London. If so, then that was Sept. 27-28, 1971.

“Polk Salad Annie.” Tony Joe White, from “That On The Road Look ‘Live,'” recorded 1971, released 2010.

Yeah, I figured you wanted the 10-minute jam. “I had Mike Utley, Duck Dunn and Sammy Creason with me, and them boys was into it,” White said.

I left the rest of the cool Tony Joe White CDs for someone else to grab at 90% off. There’s still a day and a half left before that Exclusive Company groove runs out.

Exclusive Company record store closing signs, Green Bay, WI, June 30, 2022

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Filed under June 2022, Sounds

No stickers? Hey, no problem

“Oh, man! I don’t even have any stickers to give you!”

“Don’t worry about it. I took some pictures.”

Friends of Sound Records, San Antonio, Texas

That was my final exchange with one of the friendly gents as I checked out here, at Friends of Sound Records in San Antonio, Texas, earlier this month.

We were in town for our nephew’s wedding, and I took a couple of hours to go record digging on the day before the wedding. It was quiet at Friends of Sound early that Friday afternoon. A couple of guys were doing a photo shoot, perhaps for a local magazine, so I worked around them as they worked.

Friends of Sound Records, San Antonio, Texas

All along that beautiful back wall are 45s. I sent a couple of pictures to my friend Larry in New Jersey. “That looks like a place where I could have some fun,” he said. Indeed.

But I’m not a 45 guy. I like LPs, and I had the time to look at a lot of them.

“Wow, you’re really checking everything out,” the same friendly gent said.

“Yep, I’m from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Doing a little record store tourism.”

He found that an interesting notion. I said traveling gets me into the neighborhoods and often offers chances to see records I don’t usually see.

Sure enough, I found one at Friends of Sound.

Then I stopped at one more place.

Janie's Record Shop, San Antonio, Texas

Everything I read about San Antonio record stores said Janie’s Record Shop was a must stop. Janie’s is a little roadside storefront about 3 miles west of Friends of Sound, more or less right on the way back to my hotel, as it turned out.

Juanita “Janie” Esparza, who died last fall at 94, put her 14 kids through high school, then in 1985 realized her dream of opening a record shop. Janie and the shop became south Texas legends. She sold a rich selection of regional music genres — among them Tejano, conjunto, ranchera and the Westside Sound (aka Chicano soul) — supported the artists and preserved and shared its history.

It was cool to see a shop full of those styles of music — even if I know only a little about them — and the people running the shop were really nice. They also had rock, R&B and soul records and soundtracks, so I dug through those. I found these records.

5 Stairsteps, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks record albums

Went all the way to San Antonio, Texas — 1,400 miles from home — to find four records from Chicago. At Janie’s, I found a copy of this Five Stairsteps LP without its jacket and these baseball instructional records with the Cubs’ Billy Williams and Ernie Banks on the covers.

Back at Friends of Sound, I found this one. Had never seen it before.

Willie Henderson and The Soul Explosions "Funky Chicken" LP cover

Willie Henderson is a sax player who started leading the studio band at Brunswick Records in Chicago in 1968, working there until 1974. He also did arrangements for Tyrone Davis, Barbara Acklin, Jackie Wilson and the Chi-Lites and produced Davis and Acklin.

Here’s a cool cut.

“Off Into a Black Thing,” Willie Henderson and the Soul Explosions, from “Funky Chicken,” 1970.


Filed under February 2022, Sounds

Reviews in review: ‘His lush gush’

Records in Review logo, Green Bay Press-Gazette, January 1972

50 years ago yesterday, on Sunday, Jan. 23, 1972, the CloseUp section of the Green Bay Press-Gazette carried record reviews, as it did almost every Sunday.

Some of the records reviewed on that day by free-lance writer David F. Wagner: “I Wrote a Simple Song” by Billy Preston, “The North Star Grassman and the Ravens” by Sandy Denny, “Angel Delight” by Fairport Convention and “From the Witchwood” by Strawbs.

Billy Preston? “He jumped off soul’s deep end, and every cut here is overripe and out of hand.” Sandy Denny solo? “Not exactly stimulating.” Fairport Convention? “Few ideas of consequence.” Strawbs fares best. “The lyrics get a little pretentious at times, but … a pleasant combination of rock and English folk music.”

But I’m burying the lead here, and the lead item in the column was Wagner’s vaguely racist review of “Black Moses” and the “Shaft” soundtrack, both by Isaac Hayes. It’s astonishing that his editors deemed it suitable for print.

“WHAT is obvious to anyone moderately familiar with r&b through the years is that much of the soul of ‘soul music’ is self-indulgence; understandable in a musical format in which ‘form’ consistently overrides content.”


“Enter Isaac Hayes … again. Friend or foe? Don’t answer that; after all, he’s the best Black Moses we have.”


“Hayes’ recordings have been superfantastic sellers, presumably in the black community. True, he goes over extremely well in concert before the blacks and is a sex symbol for many sisters. But I suspect a good many honkies are buying his lush gush, too.”


Here is an ill-informed white guy, 31 years old, writing for a white audience his age and older, at best trying to be edgy and at worst fancying himself a music critic on par with those in Rolling Stone.

“What he does is done well — except for the slight consideration that he can’t sing at all. It’s just that he is the epitome of corniness, black or white. He reads beautifully, but his narrations (better known as raps) are embarrassingly banal.”

Isaac Hayes, damned with faint praise. For what it’s worth, the Rolling Stone review of “Black Moses” — out the same week — had many of the same objections to Hayes’ vocal style.

Save for the most adventurous of them, Press-Gazette readers likely never heard anything by Isaac Hayes beyond “Theme from Shaft.” Wagner declared the “Shaft” soundtrack “the preferable product” because “it is mostly instrumental, so there are no raps and only a minority of bad singing.”

Anyone else feel like they need a shower? Let’s let Isaac Hayes wash over us for the next 19 minutes instead.

“Do Your Thing,” Isaac Hayes, from the “Shaft” soundtrack, 1971.

For those wondering, Mr. Wagner — by all accounts a good man who had a bad week in January 1972 — is no longer with us.

Here’s the review in its entirety, for those who wish to read more.

Green Bay Press-Gazette review of Isaac Hayes' "Black Moses" and "Shaft" soundtrack, Jan. 24, 1972

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Filed under January 2022, Sounds

Gone in threes, 2021

They go in threes. They always go in threes. 2021 was no different.

Adventurers: Greg “Da Bull” Noll (big-wave surfer), Carla Wallenda (matriarch of Flying Wallendas high-wire act), George Whitmore (one of the first El Capitan climbers)

A league of their own: Audrey Haine Daniels (one of the top pitchers in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League), Helen Nicol Fox (winningest pitcher in AAGPBL history), Joyce Hill Westerman (AAGPBL catcher for 8 seasons)

All that jazz: Chick Corea, Pat Martino, Dr. Lonnie Smith

All the president’s men: G. Gordon Liddy (Watergate burglar), Eugenio Martinez (Watergate burglar; Dominic Chianese played him in the film), Harry M. Rosenfeld (Washington Post editor who directed Watergate coverage; Jack Warden played him in the film)

Backing the Beatles: Lizzie Bravo (singer, “Across the Universe”), Sheila Bromberg (harp, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”), Kenneth Essex (viola, “Yesterday”)

Backup singers: Evette Benton (Sweethearts of Sigma, the Sweeties), Jessie Smith (an original Ikette), Pervis Staples (Staple Singers)

Badasses: Melvin Van Peebles, Clarence Williams III, Michael K. Williams

Basketball legends: Elgin Baylor (Lakers), Jerry Harkness (helped desegregate college basketball in the South in the early ’60s), Sam Jones (Celtics)

Ron Campbell Yellow Submarine art

Beatlemania: Ron Campbell (“Yellow Submarine” animator; I saw this “Yellow Submarine” piece at his pop-up show in Green Bay in 2019), Maureen Cleave (conducted Lennon’s more-popular-than-Jesus interview in 1966), Denis O’Dell (Beatles film producer, name-checked in “You Know My Name [Look Up the Number]”)

Black aces: Jim “Mudcat” Grant (first Black pitcher to win 20 games and a World Series game in the AL), Grant Jackson (pitched 18 years; winning pitcher in Game 7 of 1979 World Series), J.R. Richard (tall, flame-throwing pitcher; career cut short by a stroke)

Blacklisted: Walter Bernstein (screenwriter, “The Front”), Hal Holbrook (appears in “The Majestic,” a 2001 film about a blacklisted screenwriter), Norman Lloyd (actor)

Black power: Lee Elder (golf), Lee Evans (1968 Olympics), Marvin Hagler (boxing)

Black Uhuru: Mikey “Mao” Chung (guitar, keyboards), Garth Dennis (vocals), Robbie Shakespeare (bass)

Bonded: Remy Julienne (stunt driver and coordinator on six Bond films), Yaphet Kotto (Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big, “Live and Let Die”), Tanya Roberts (Stacey Sutton, Bond girl in “A View to a Kill”)

British invaders: Graeme Edge (Moody Blues drummer), Gerry Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers), Hilton Valentine (Animals guitarist)

Cable news: Jeanetta Jones (Weather Channel), Larry King (CNN), Allison Payne (WGN, Chicago)

Check the label:  Quinton Claunch (Hi and Goldwax Records co-founder), Bob Koester (Delmark Records), Johnny Pacheco (salsa percussionist, Fania Records co-founder)

Child actors: Dustin Diamond, Dean Stockwell, Jane Withers

Children’s bookshelf: Eric Carle (“The Very Hungry Caterpillar”), Beverly Cleary (“Henry Huggins” and “Ramona” books), Richard Robinson (Scholastic books)

Comedy writers: Anne Beatts (National Lampoon, “Saturday Night Live,” “Square Pegs”), Frank Jacobs (MAD magazine), Paul Mooney (Richard Pryor, “In Living Color”)

Comic book creators: Joye Hummel Murchison Kelly (first woman hired to write “Wonder Woman”), Frank Thorne (drew “Red Sonja”), S. Clay Wilson (underground comix)

Composers: Dolores Claman (“Hockey Night in Canada” theme), Alan Hawkshaw (British film and TV themes), Mikis Theodorakis (Greek and prolific; scored “Zorba the Greek,” “Z” and “Serpico”)

Country rockers: Paul Cotton (Poco), Michael Nesmith (Monkees, First National Band, solo work), Rusty Young (Poco)

Critical thinkers: Lawrence Ferlinghetti (poetry and arts), bell hooks (feminist and social issues), Greg Tate (Black culture)

Curtain call: Leslie Bricusse, Stephen Sondheim, Jim Steinman

Directors: Michael Apted, Richard Donner, Lina Wertmuller

DJs: Bob Fass (‘60s free-form radio pioneer), Paul Johnson (Chicago house DJ, influenced Daft Punk), Janice Long (first woman with daily show on BBC Radio 1)

Entrepreneurs: Peter Buck (Subway co-founder), Dennis Murphy (American Basketball Association, World Hockey Association, World Team Tennis co-founder), Ron Popeil (infomercial pioneer, invented Veg-O-Matic, Chop-O-Matic, Ronco Pocket Fisherman)

Fast company: Bob Bondurant, Al Unser, Bobby Unser

Football trailblazers: Sam “Bam” Cunningham (USC fullback who helped desegregate college football in the South by beating Alabama in 1970), Irv Cross (first Black sports analyst on TV), John Madden (NFL coach turned broadcaster turned video game icon)

Freedom fighters: Meredith Anding (one of the Tougaloo Nine readers at peaceful sit-in at white-only library in Mississippi in 1961), Robert Parris Moses (civil rights activist, Freedom Summer organizer, beaten during Mississippi voter drive in 1961), Gloria Richardson (Maryland civil rights pioneer, pushed away National Guardsman’s bayonet during protest march in 1963)

Go big or go home: Ted Gardner (Lollapalooza co-founder), Ken Kragen (We Are The World producer), George Wein (Newport Jazz Festival founder)

Gone, country: Nanci Griffith, Tom T. Hall, B.J. Thomas

Hasta la bye bye: Rush Limbaugh, Bernard Madoff (Wall Street Ponzi schemer), Phil Spector (see also Legends, unfortunately)

Here come the brides: Bridget Hanley (“Here Come the Brides”), Tawny Kitaen (“Bachelor Party”), Jane Powell (“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”)

Heroes among us: Gertrude Pressburger (Holocaust survivor who warned Austrian voters about threats from the far right in 2016), Justus Rosenberg (helped rescue artists and intellectuals from Nazis, then a French Resistance fighter during World War II), Faye Schulman (survived Holocaust, photographed Russian partisan fighters during WWII)

Her stories: Eve Babitz, Joan Didion, Anne Rice

Hip-hop pioneers: Biz Markie, Prince Markie Dee (Fat Boys), Shock G (Digital Underground)

Inventive: Kenneth Kelly (Black designer of antennas for satellite TV/radio, NASA), Bruce Meyers (created Meyers Manx, first fiberglass dune buggy), Spencer Silver (3M chemist accidentally invented Post-It Notes adhesive)

It’s 1941 again: Ned Beatty, Frank McRae (he pops out of the tank, wearing baseball gear, at 0:27), Walter Olkewicz (not seen here, but a soldier in the scene where the tank smashes through the door … hey, it’s one of my favorite movies)

JB’s soul brothers: Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis (bandleader, arranger, sax), Melvin Parker (drums), Danny Ray (emcee and cape man)

Kid stuff: Joanna Cameron (“Isis”), Billie Hayes (Witchiepoo on “H.R. Pufnstuf”), John Paragon (Jambi on “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” … and that’s Lawrence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis and a young Natasha Lyonne in that clip)

Last laughs: Norm Macdonald, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl

Last man standing: Hubert Germain (last French liberator honored with Order of Liberation), Leon Kopelman (last known surviving fighter of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), Josep Almudever Mateu (last survivor of International Brigades vs. Franco)

Legends: Don Everly, Lloyd Price, Phil Spector (see also “Hasta la bye bye”)

Let’s boogie: George Frayne (Commander Cody), Dusty Hill (ZZ Top), Tom Morey (Boogie Board inventor)

Let’s play: Maki Kaji (Sudoku creator), Reuben Klamer (created Game of Life, Man from UNCLE gun, Star Trek phaser rifle), Henry Orenstein (Holocaust survivor developed poker’s hole-card camera, Transformers toys)

Let’s rock: James Giombetti (Mr. G of Wisconsin’s indie record chain, The Exclusive Company), John Koss (co-inventor of first stereo headphones), Lou Ottens (helped invent cassette tapes, CDs)

LGBTQ icons: Steve Bronski (Bronski Beat), Alix Dobkin (lesbian singer and activist),  Sophie

Lights out in the WJM newsroom: Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Betty White

Loyal opposition: Rennie Davis (Chicago Seven), George Holliday (taped Rodney King beating), Allan McDonald (Challenger engineer and whistleblower)

Making the scene: Connie Hamzy (groupie made famous by Grand Funk), Ricky Powell (New York hip-hop photographer), Mick Rock (rock photographer)

Man behind the music: John Davis (one of the real Milli Vanilli voices), John Miles (“Music” was his 1976 hit), Chuck E. Weiss (in love, name-checked by Rickie Lee Jones)

Mary Tyler more: Allan Burns (co-creator, wrote 168 episodes), Cloris Leachman, Jay Sandrich (directed 119 episodes)

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Lew Krausse autograph

Milwaukee County Stadium glory days, playing: Hank Aaron (Braves and Brewers), Del Crandall (played for Braves, managed Brewers), Lew Krausse (Brewers pitcher who signed this autograph for me in 1971)

Milwaukee County Stadium glory days, watching: Frank Charles (Brewers organist), Bud Lea (covered the Braves for the old Milwaukee Sentinel), Tom Skibosh (Brewers PR guy)

Name-checked: Jay Black (Jay and The Americans), Billy Hinsche (Dino, Desi & Billy), Michael Stanley (Michael Stanley Band)

Night Court, out of session: Larry Gelman, Markie Post, Charles Robinson

Oscar nominees: Olympia Dukakis, Christopher Plummer, Cicely Tyson

Out of the west: Johnny Crawford (“The Rifleman”), Henry Darrow (“The High Chaparral”), James Hampton (“F Troop”)

Outrageous women: Fanne Foxe (exotic dancer in 1974 sex scandal with Congressman Wilbur Mills), Margo St. James (sex worker and sex-positive feminist), Tempest Storm (exotic dancer)

Power of the press: Larry Flynt (Hustler publisher, First Amendment activist), Neil Sheehan (got the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg and exposed them), Richard Stolley (got a copy of the Zapruder film for Life magazine, first People magazine editor)

Pumped up: Dave Draper (bodybuilding), Black Jack Lanza (’60s and ’70s wrestler), “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff (’80s and ’90s wrestler)

Redheads: Arlene Dahl, Betty Lynn, Rusty Warren

Reggae royalty: Astro (UB40), Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bunny Wailer (the Wailers)

Sitcom regulars: Frank Bonner (“WKRP in Cincinnati”), Peter Scolari (“Bosom Buddies,” “Newhart”), Gregory Sierra (“Sanford and Son,” “Barney Miller”)

Sitcom sidekicks: Arlene Golonka (“Mayberry RFD”), Eddie Mekka (“Laverne & Shirley”), Felix Silla (Cousin Itt on “The Addams Family,” Twiki on “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”)

Soul brothers: James Burke (Five Stairsteps), Joe Simon, Ronnie Wilson (Gap Band)

Soul sisters: Sarah Dash (Labelle), Mary Wilson (Supremes), Wanda Young (Marvelettes)

Space, the final frontier: Bruce Blackburn (helped design NASA “worm” logo introduced in 1975), Michael Collins (Apollo 11 astronaut), Glynn Lunney (NASA flight director helped save Apollo 13 mission)

Talk-show treasures: Dick Carson (Johnny’s younger brother, directed “The Tonight Show” and “The Merv Griffin Show”), Charles Grodin, George Segal

That voice: Marion Ramsey (“Police Academy” movies), Paul Soles (Hermey in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Spider-Man”), Samuel E. Wright (Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid”)

True crime: John Artis (wrongfully convicted with boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter), Theodore Conrad (Cleveland bank robber inspired by “The Thomas Crown Affair,” lived second life in Massachusetts as Thomas Randele for 50 years), Ronald DeFeo Jr. (murderer inspired “The Amityville Horror”)

TV moms: Gloria Henry (“Dennis the Menace”), Pat Loud (“An American Family”), Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”)

Unforgettable solos: Duke Bootee (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, spoken solo on “The Message” — “It’s like a jungle, sometimes it makes me wonder.”), Gil Bridges (Rare Earth, flute solo on “Born to Wander”), Ron Bushy (Iron Butterfly, drum solo on “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” cued up here, starting at 6:23)

The Untouchables: Michael Constantine (5 appearances, 1961-63), Nicholas Georgiade (last surviving regular, played Enrico Rossi), Chuck Hicks (LaMarr Kane, 1959)

Wise counsel: F. Lee Bailey (for the defense), Brian Rohan (San Francisco “dope lawyer” for ’60s rock stars), Sarah Weddington (Roe ‘s attorney in Roe v. Wade)

World leaders: Walter Mondale, Prince Philip, Archbishop Desmond Tutu

World music: Buddy Deppenschmidt (bossa nova drummer), Vicente Fernandez (Mexican ranchera music), Paddy Moloney (Chieftains)

Gone in Threes, the band

Band leaders: Les Emmerson (Five Man Electrical Band), Richard H. Kirk (Cabaret Voltaire), Leslie McKeown (Bay City Rollers)

Guitar: Bruce Conte (Tower of Power), Mike Mitchell (Kingsmen), Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls)

Bass: Morris “B.B.” Dickerson (War), Leonard “Hub” Hubbard (Roots), Alan Lancaster (Status Quo)

Drums: Charles Connor (Little Richard), Jerry Granelli (Vince Guaraldi Trio), Roger Hawkins (Muscle Shoals sessions)

Horns: Joey Ambrose (Bill Haley and the Comets sax), Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas (Kool & The Gang sax), Johnny Trudell (Motown trumpeter and brass leader)

Keyboards: Louis Clark (Electric Light Orchestra, for whom he also was conductor and arranger), Gary Corbett (KISS, Cinderella), Gene Taylor (Blasters, Fabulous Thunderbirds)

The last word

Some memorable farewells

Renay Mandel Corren, 84, of El Paso, Texas: “The bawdy, fertile, redheaded matriarch of a sprawling Jewish-Mexican-Redneck American family has kicked it. … The family requests absolutely zero privacy or propriety, none what so ever, and in fact encourages you to spend some government money today on a 1-armed bandit, at the blackjack table or on a cheap cruise to find our inheritance. She spent it all, folks.”

Marilyn DeAdder, 80, of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada: “She excelled at giving the finger, taking no shit and laughing at jokes, preferably in the shade of blue. She did not excel at suffering fools, hiding her disdain, and putting her car in reverse.”

Carol Lindeen, 81, of Madison, Wisconsin: “In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Ron Johnson’s opponent in 2022.”

Milton Munson Jr., 73, of Grand Island, Nebraska: “The grim reality of the Nebraska Cornhuskers finishing yet another season with a losing record proved to be too much to bear for Milton Andrew Munson, who decided he’d seen enough of this world during the team’s recent bye week.”

Joyce Uren, 76, of Schofield, Wisconsin: “She is limiting crying to one hour, and then we go out to eat, on her! Please note her change of address; Forestville Cemetery, Ringle, WI, Row E, #11.”

A furious farewell

Mike Malecki, 70, of Schenectady, New York: “Michael Joseph Malecki died needlessly from Covid-19. … He did not believe in masks, tests, vaccines, or the virus; he was ill for less than 48 hours. … He liked to say he lived his life according to his favorite songs, ‘My Way’ and ‘I Gotta Be Me.’ He was certainly him, and it probably killed him.”

The stunner: There always is one death that takes your breath away. I was going to put Hank Aaron here, then Michael Nesmith. But I knew both weren’t well. No, in 2021, it was breathtaking to lose Charlie Watts, gone at 80. The Rolling Stones have always seemed invincible, especially with Charlie setting the beat for 58 years. Perhaps more stunning than Charlie’s passing was the Stones’ decision to soldier on without him. All good things end, gents.


This is not intended to be an inclusive list of all who died in 2021. This is my highly subjective list. Yours will be different.

The credits

Each year, I use these sources for this list.

We start with Wikipedia’s month-by-month lists of prominent deaths. Then we check with our friend Gunther at Any Major Dude, who compiles lists of notable music deaths each monthp. Each of those is more thorough than this roundup. Highly recommended. Then we go through a year of Mojo magazines, whose “Real Gone” and “They Also Served” features are wonderful. Other solid sources include News from ME (the blog by comics and animation writer Mark Evanier)Ultimate Classic Rock and the Washington Post.

Previous “Gone in threes” entries

20202019 * 2018 * 2017 * 2016 * 2015 * 2014 * 2013 * 2012 * 2011 * 2010

Plus similar year-end posts in 2008 and 2009.

(If you wonder why this always lags the new year by a few days, it’s because some deaths aren’t announced immediately. But I can’t wait too long. For example, this new year is but 13 days old and already we’re going forward without Ronnie Spector, Dwayne Hickman, James Mtume, Bob Saget, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Poitier, Calvin Simon and Max Julien.)

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Filed under January 2022, Sounds