Leroy Jenkins


Born: March 11 1932;
died: February 24 2007

Born on Chicago's South Side, and encouraged by his pianist mother, Jenkins learned the clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon, violin and viola as a child, and was playing in St Luke's, the city's biggest Baptist church, by the time he was 10.

Chicago mid-1960s, he became involved with the AACM cooperative, soon establishing himself as free jazz's most inventive violinist. In 1967 he co-founded the Creative Construction Company with Braxton and Smith, which migrated to Paris, where he also recorded with the Coltranesque saxophonist Archie Shepp. On returning to New York, he initially lived in Coleman's SoHo loft. Jenkins continued to perform with Shepp in the 1970s, and with trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Paul Motian, but it was the Revolutionary Ensemble that saw some of his most sophisticated work of that decade.



Emmett Williams


Emmett Williams


Born: April 4, 1925;
died: February 14, 2007

Emmett Williams collaborated with Daniel Spoerri in the Darmstadt circle of concrete poetry from 1957 to 1959. In the 1960s, Williams was the European coordinator of Fluxus, and a founding member of the Domaine Poetique in Paris, France.

Williams translated and reanecdoted Daniel Spoerri's Topographie Anecdotee du Hasard (An Anecdoted Topography of Chance), collaborated with Claes Oldenburg on Store Days, and edited An Anthology of Concrete Poetry, all published by the Something Else Press (owned and managed by fellow Fluxus artist Dick Higgins in New York and Vermont).



Eric Von Schmidt


Eric von Schmidt


Born: May 28 1931
died: February 2, 2007

When Eric von Schmidt answered his door in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one morning in June 1961, he was greeted by a twitchy young man with a guitar case strapped across his back. "He looked," von Schmidt recalled, "like a little spastic gnome."

Bob Dylan was still unknown and unrecorded when he sought out von Schmidt, then 30 and a decade older. As legend has it, von Schmidt gave the young Dylan a tour of Cambridge in his Oldsmobile, playing harmonica riffs with one hand as he drove, while Dylan strummed chords on his guitar. Back at von Schmidt's home, he and Dylan, by then "high and giggly" on Chianti and dope, played croquet on the lawn. Dylan listened intently as von Schmidt went through his repertoire, including one called "Baby, Let Me Lay It On You." Dylan then went on to sing what had now become reincarnated as "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down," changing von Schmidt's title and chorus lyrics in a version later covered by many other artists, including the British group The Animals. When Dylan's electrified album "Bringing It All Back Home" was released in 1965, he acknowledged his debt by showing a copy of von Schmidt's album prominently on the iconic cover.

According to Dylan, von Schmidt "could sing the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire. He can separate the men from the boys and the note from the noise. The bridle from the saddle and the cow from the cattle. He can play the tune of the moon. The why of the sky and the commotion of the ocean."



Alice Coltrane


Alice Coltrane

Modern jazz pianist, organist, harpist and composer

Born: August 27 1937;
died: January 12 2007

Before taking up the harp, Alice had studied with bebop keyboard legend Bud Powell and worked in the company of such stars as saxophonists Johnny Griffin, Yusef Lateef and Lucky Thompson. It was during a season with vibraphonist Terry Gibbs at New York's Birdland club in 1963 Alice met saxophonist John Coltrane, even then one of the most respected of jazz innovators. Alice left Gibbs's band to marry Coltrane, and two years later replaced the departing McCoy Tyner on piano.

Sympathetic to her husband both musically and spiritually, Alice was ready to go further. She developed an undulating, trancelike (and harplike) manner of keyboard playing to accompany his haunting soliloquies, exploring ambient and slow-moving textural ideas. After her husband died of liver failure at 40 in 1967, Alice continued to explore the music of his final years, with Pharoah Sanders inheriting the saxophonist's role.

Her albums in the late 1960s and early 70s still retained a jazz line-up's horn-sound (saxists Joe Henderson and Pharoah Sanders), subtle uses of flutes, the north African oud and the harp were suggesting new timbres. Her performances became sparse, but she was always capable of musical surprises - a genuflection to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, surfaced on her 1975 album Eternity.

Alice converted to Hinduism and moved to more direct forms of religious engagement. She founded the Vedantic Center, a California-based spiritual commune, and became the swami of the San Fernando valley's first Hindu temple, in Chatsworth.



Robert Anton Wilson


Robert Anton Wilson

Author - visionary

Born: January 18, 1932;
died: January 14, 2007

Scarcely any alternative school of thought popularised since the 1960s escaped his attention as a promoter (or debunker, and often both) of conspiracy theories, theology, philosophy, psychology, occultism, chaos theory, neurolinguistic programming and quantum mechanics, or in his stints as an essayist, lecturer, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, punk musician, associate editor of Playboy and write-in candidate for governor of California, representing the Guns and Dope party Ð which also advocated equal rights for ostriches.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he engaged with avant-garde notions, drugs and mysticism, and through his wife Arlen became friendly with Timothy Leary, the Harvard psychologist and advocate of LSD. Albert Hofman, the inventor of LSD, was also a longstanding friend.

Wilson's best-known publications were the Illuminatus! books written with Robert Shea, a gleeful conglomeration, and send-up, of almost every conspiracy theory ever formulated. Other books ranged from The Sex Magicians (1973) to Neuropolitics (with Timothy Leary and George Koopman, 1978, revised 1988), Quantum Psychology (1990) and Chaos and Beyond (1994).



James Brown


James Brown

Born in poverty in Barnwell, S.C. 1933;
died Christmas Day, 2006

Singer/Godfather of Soul

By the eighth grade in 1949, Brown had served 3 1/2 years in Alto Reform School near Toccoa, Ga., for breaking into cars. While there, he met Bobby Byrd, whose family took Brown into their home. Byrd also took Brown into his group, the Gospel Starlighters. Soon they changed their name to the Famous Flames and their style to hard R&B.

From the 1950s, when Brown had his first R&B hit, "Please, Please, Please" in 1956, through the mid-1970s, Brown went on a frenzy of cross-country tours, concerts and new songs. He earned the nickname "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" and often tried to prove it to his fans, and his "Live at The Apollo" in 1962 is widely considered one of the greatest concert records ever recorded.

In September 1988, Brown, high on PCP and carrying a shotgun, entered an insurance seminar next to his Augusta office. Police said he asked seminar participants if they were using his private restroom. Police chased Brown for a half-hour from Augusta into South Carolina and back to Georgia. The chase ended when police shot out the tires of his truck.

Soon after his release, Brown was on stage again with an audience that included millions of cable television viewers nationwide who watched the three-hour, pay-per-view concert at Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.

"He was dramatic to the end - dying on Christmas Day," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a friend of Brown's since 1955. "Almost a dramatic, poetic moment. He'll be all over the news all over the world today. He would have it no other way."



Robert Lockwood Jr


Robert Lockwood Jr.

Born: March 27 1915;
died November 21 2006

Blues singer/guitarist

Robert Lockwood Jr. (one of the last of the Mississippi Delta blues guitarists) was born in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas. He took up the guitar, when he was aged 11 and received lessons from his mother's on/off live-in boyfriend, Robert Johnson, the most important influence on the Delta style and, according to Eric Clapton, "the most important blues musician who ever lived" and was said to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads at Greenwood, Mississippi, in exchange for his phenomenal ability on the guitar.

Lockwood was an adept pupil, and by 15 was touring around the Mississippi Delta with Johnson and others such as Rice Miller (later Sonny Boy Williamson II) and Howlin' Wolf. A contemporary of Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim, Johnny Shines, and Little Walter by the early 1950s he had settled in Chicago.

In 1989 he entered the Blues Hall of Fame.



Sven Nyquist


Sven Nykvist

Born: December 3 1922;
died September 20 2006


A fruitful partnership with filmmaker Ingmar Bergman began with The Virgin Spring (1960), followed by: Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light and The Silence (both 1963) Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1967), A Passion (1969), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes of a Marriage (1974), The Ox (1991) and Fanny and Alexander (1982)

He also shot Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Louis Malle's Pretty Baby (1978), Bob Rafelson's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Andrei Tarkovsky's final film, The Sacrifice (1986), Phil Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), and fellow Swede Lasse Hallstrom's What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993).

In 1997, during the filming of Woody Allen's Celebrity, Nykvist was diagnosed with having progressive aphasia, a rare brain disease that causes words to become mixed up and eventually leads to complete loss of speech. With his condition worsening, he was forced to retire, an irony for someone who spent his career communicating visually rather than verbally. The warm-hearted Nykvist, with his handsome Viking appearance, whose favourite novel was Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, commented in the 1990s, "It has taken me 30 years to come to simplicity."



Arthur Taylor Porter


Arthur Taylor Porter (Lee)

Born: July 3, 1945;
died: August 5, 2006

Singer, songwriter and guitarist

One of the earliest songs Arthrur wrote and produced was the 1965 Rosa Lee Brooks release, My Diary which was the first recording to feature Jimi Hendrix on guitar.

In 1966, his Los Angeles based group LOVE became the first rock band to be signed by Elektra Records, and their third album release, Forever Changes, has been named the 40th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. Their song 7 & 7 Is has been described as "an apocalyptic masterpiece."

By 1976, Arthur had all but quit the music business, and was working as a housepainter in South Central LA. During the 1990s, he fired a pistol into the air after pointing it at a neighbor, and although no one was injured in the incident, Arthur had fallen foul of the "three strikes and you're out" policy, having been convicted of assault and drugs charges during the 1980s.

After his release, Arthur assembled a new version of LOVE (with the group Baby Lemonade) and toured Europe and North America, often playing Forever Changes in its entirety.




Rufus Harley


Rufus Harley

world's first jazz bagpiper

Born: May 20, 1936
died: on August 1, 2006

Inspired to take up the Scottish great highland bagpipe when he saw the Scottish Black Watch performing at President Kennedy's funeral in November 1963. As he first began experimenting with his new instrument, a neighbour called the police to complain about the noise emanating from Harley's apartment; the musician would ask the officers innocently: "Do I look like I'm Irish or Scottish to you?"

Although he admitted that "everybody thought I was crazy," Harley set about adapting the bagpipes to jazz and was featured on records and in concert with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Dizzy Gillespie, flautist Herbie Mann and more recently accompanied singer Laurie Anderson on her album Big Science (1982)

For Rufus Harley, the bagpipe is a spiritual instrument. "The drone uses the ancient vibrations of the universe. Bagpipes represent the ultimate sound of philosophy because it sustains. It brings the yin and the yang together, the male and female. The human anatomy is the original instrument. When people first came to America, they brought their instruments with them. Their bodies. Now itÕs the time for people to understand that we got to get our asses in tune."

When John Coltrane bought his own set of bagpipes, it was Harley he phoned in the middle of the night for advice. Harley's unique sound had convinced Coltrane to buy a set of pipes, and he was looking for advice on "how to make them sing."




Syd Barrett


Syd Barrett

Born: January 6, 1946;
died: July 7, 2006

Guitarist, singer and lyricist

Founding member of Pink Floyd --often described
as the original acid casualty --a troubled genius whose
drug abuse and poetic lyrics personified the psychedelic 60s.

Syd was said to have come up with the name for the band by fusing
the names of bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council in 1965.

Floyd was the most influential act in swinging London's underground
music scene, filling venues like UFO and The Roundhouse with audiences
keen to witness their radical sound and its accompanying light-show.
With Syd as its driving force, the Floyd created a number of classic tracks,
most notably Astronomy Domine, Interstellar Overdrive, Arnold Layne,
and See Emily Play.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond, performed during the band's 1974 tour
is a tribute in appreciation for Syd's contributions to the band.

He left Pink Floyd in 1968 and lived in the basement of his mother's
semi-detached house where he boarded up the windows to avoid fans.
In recent years, Barrett preferred to be known by his original Christian
name, Roger. But, despite continuing mental problems and diabetes,
those who met him spoke of a content man who had left his illustrious
past behind him. A devoted gardener, regular royalty payments made
his later years more comfortable.

"Remember when you were young?/You shone like the sun"

The Piper at the Gate of Dawn




Vince Welnick


Vince Welnick

Keyboard player
Member of the Grateful Dead

Born: February 21, 1951;
died: June 2, 2006

May the four winds blow him safely home.




Hamza El Din


Hamza El Din

Master musician, composer

Born 1929;
died May 23, 2006

Hamza Ed Din was a humble, open-minded man with a warm smile and a
generous spirit, possessing a distinctively light touch on the oud -- a gentle
singing style and a spiritual philosophy that sprang from his Sufi roots.

He collaborated with the Grateful Dead, facilitating their 1978 Egyptian tour through his association with their percussionist Mickey Hart, who produced Hamza's album Eclipse. They appeared on the same bill at the Great Pyramid of Giza during a total lunar eclipse.







Roadie extraordinaire

Born 1945;
died May 17, 2006

He was 'on the bus' every step of the long, strange trip with the Grateful Dead and got the name Ramrod from Ken Kesey. "I am Ramon Rodriguez Rodriguez, the famous Mexican guide," he boasted, and he was known ever after as Ramrod.

Ramrod joined the Dead in 1967 and went to work setting up and tearing down the band's equipment for every show the Dead played. He was a protege of Neal Cassady, one of the Merry Pranksters and a Beat era legend and model for the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's landmark novel On the Road.

He was a quiet, unflappable road warrior - "First In - Last Out."

Elegy for Ramrod
by Robert Hunter

"Name's Ramrod -- Kesey sent me -- I hear you need a good man."
__ Ramrod 1967




Raul Corrales


Raúl Corrales


Born January 29 1925;
died April 15, 2006

Perhaps the most gifted of the photographers who chronicled the Cuban Revolution; for several years he was Fidel Castro's official photographer, and present at such momentous events as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Missile Crisis.

Corrales's best-known picture, Caballeria (Cavalry, 1960), was political in nature, showing a band of horsemen symbolically riding on to a plantation owned by an American fruit company.

Corrales took several of the first photographs of Che Guevara, as well as notable pictures of Ernest Hemingway and Anselmo Hernandez, reputedly the model for The Old Man and the Sea.




Helen Barbara Kruger Kohn - Bobbie Nudie


Helen Barbara Kruger "Bobbie Nudie" Cohn

Theatrical costumier

Born July 29 1913;
died April 7 2006

1934, in Manhattan, with husband 'Nudie', she opened a dressmaking enterprise.
On the road, relocating to LA, they were passed by cowboy star Tom Mix in a Cadillac. "Some day," she remarked, "he'll eat our dust."

1947 Los Angeles the couple opened Nudie's Rodeo Tailors.

Late 1950s they created the famous gold lamé suit for Elvis Presley.
Also famous were their sombre man in black outfits for Johnny Cash.
Roy Rogers, Hank Williams and Buck Owens were buried in their Nudie suits.

"It is better to be looked over than overlooked."___ 'Bobbie Nudie 1949




Gene Pitney


Gene Pitney

Singer and songwriter

Born February 17 1941;
died April 5 2006.

Compositions include:

Today's Teardrops (rec. by Roy Orbison)
Rubber Ball (rec. by Bobby Vee)
Hello Mary Lou (rec. by Ricky Nelson)
Town Without Pity
(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance
Only Love Can Break a Heart
He's a Rebel
True Love Never Runs Smooth
24 Hours from Tulsa
Nobody Needs Your Love
Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart

"If I could choose a season in which to die it would be late autumn, when it's still nice and warm here and all the leaves are changing colour. I'd love the Rolling Stones to come and play at the party - I'm sure they'll still be touring long after I am dead." __ Gene Pitney 2003




Vilgot Sjoman


Vilgot Sjoman

Film director

Born December 2 1924;
died April 9 2006

I Am Curious Yellow, directed by Vilgot Sjoman has
remained the most financially successful foreign film in
the US for 23 years.

Seized by the US customs, pronounced obscene and banned --
protected under the first amendment, which allowed it to be
released in March 1969 - but only in New York and New Jersey.

Influenced by Jean-Luc Godard
sexual and social taboos
juvenile delinquents
and incest

"I am curious." __ Vilgot Sjoman (1960)




Alan Kaprow


Allan Kaprow


Born: August 23, 1927;
died: April 5, 2006

devoted to the examination of everyday life,
nearly indistinguishable from ordinary life
integrating ideas of Un-Art of the Un-Artist.'
___ Allan Kaprow

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