Bobby Keys and Ian McLagan: Two Days, Two Greats Gone

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Photo by Alisa Beth Cherry
Locks of love: The late great Ian MacLagan photographed with the author this past September

Today, lovers of rock and roll all across the globe are engulfed in grief at the loss of two legends. Bobby Keys, the man whose brilliant sax solo ignited the classic "Brown Sugar" and so many other iconic anthems, passed away from cirrhosis on Tuesday. Then, as if fate were insistent on inflicting a one-two punch, the news of the death of Ian McLagan, an essential member of the Small Faces and the Faces came on Wednesday.

It's devastating, their sudden departures, the loss to the world of music, the spirited personalities that illuminated so many lives through their talents. It's devastating, depressing, and too much to take in. Great music is immortal. Alas, its champions are not.

Both men shared similar resumes. Each played with the Rolling Stones, Keys for more than 40 years, McLagan on occasion. Both contributed to the golden age of '60s and '70s rock, when purity and substance reigned in rock. Neither was really known as a front man, but both were rock stars regardless, whether due to indiscriminate indulgence, perfect posturing, an edgy attitude or simply their solid support. It's safe to say that these two were the real deal. Even when they approached their seventies -- Keys was 70, McLagan 69 -- their gray hair, wrinkles and a well worn visages couldn't mask their thriving spirits.


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RIP, Jeff Tucci, South Florida Punk Rock Guitar God

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

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Jessica Kross

I cleaned some sprouts off some red potatoes, and they sat in the sink, wet and glistening like pomegranate seeds. It was a fleeting thought, them looking that way. A thought I found amusing and privately poetic. I had recently heard that Jeff Tucci had passed. I didn't know the details of his death, still don't, but with my hands in the hot water, potatoes in hand, I began wondering how I'd go about my words here.

A couple of months ago, Load drummer Fausto Figueredo had asked me to pen the liner notes to the band's upcoming album, Drunken Warrior Chief, an honor for me as longtime fan yet bittersweet because Bobby "Load" Johnston's passing had been the last time I wrote about the legendary Miami punk crew. Recently, and before any knowledge of this sad news, I had been informed that my words would not be used in the release and that the band had opted to write something themselves, which is completely understandable -- I was honored for the consideration.

See also: Sleep Well, Sweet Prince, Bobby "Load" Johnston, 1970 to 2012


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RIP, Sweet Chariots Singer and Guitarist Thomas Warren

Categories: Obituaries

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Thomas Warren, guitarist and lead singer of the Sweet Chariots, arguably South Florida's best (and undoubtedly its hardest-working) rockabilly band, has passed away. Warren was on his way home from a gig when he was involved in a car accident, Friday, November 28, around 12:45 a.m. in Indian River County.

According to the FHP, one of the vehicles was traveling in the wrong direction, though they cannot yet confirm which one it was. Both drivers died at the scene. Warren had just performed at the Kilted Mermaid in Vero Beach, and the bar's owner, Rick Norry, told NBC 5 that Warren had not been drinking at the show. Warren was 24 years old.


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Mike Nichols, Director of The Birdcage and The Graduate Dies at 83

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

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Publicity photo for Mike Nichols

This was a brutal year for fans of the 1996 box office smash The Birdcage.

There will be no Dumb and Dumber, twenty-year-later sequel for the movie that showcased South Beach as a whimsical American Riviera. This August, the film's star Robin Williams passed away and just yesterday, its director Mike Nichols died of cardiac arrest.

That comedy about a gay couple pretending to be straight helped transform South Florida's image in pop culture as packed with cocaine dealers and riddled with gangland shootings into a region of decadent brunches.

While The Birdcage has great relevance regionally and also portrayed homosexuals in a positive light before Ellen came out or Will & Grace aired, it still might be just an asterisk in Mike Nichols brilliant career.

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Counting Down: a Tribute to Casey Kasem

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Photo by Alan Light
Before the option of typing the name of any song into Google, the surest way to hear the hits of the day was on Sunday mornings. You would simply turn the radio station to American Top 40 and Casey Kasem would count the best tunes down from numbers 40 to one.

Between songs, he would spout out little known facts about the artists, the movement of the songs on the charts, and even recite long distance heartfelt song dedications between lovers, proud parents, or grieving pet owners.

Kasem who died this past Sunday had a timeless voice that continues to live on with rebroadcasts of the syndicated show American Top 40 - The 70's that can be heard locally on Magic 102.7 every Sunday morning 7 to 10 a.m. In honor of the man's passing here's a top 10 countdown of Casey Kasem's 82 years on this Earth.

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RIP, Crazy Fingers' Corey Dwyer: Joined the Righteous Jam in the Sky

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Crazyfingers.net

Crazy Fingers officially got its start at Ultimate Farms on Halloween of 1990. Founded by the rhythm section of drummer Peter Lavezzoli and bassist Bubba Newton, it wouldn't be until 1993 that the band would find its strongest and longest lineup with the addition of guitarist Rich Friedman and multi-instrumentalist Corey Dwyer. Establishing themselves as the premier Grateful Dead tribute band in Florida, Crazy Fingers built a devout following with a pretty serious work ethic that could be likened only to their musical heroes.

Performing three to four times a week, Crazy Fingers also released two albums of original material, the sold-out Come On and Dance and Strange Life. Heavy on the hippie jam, these albums have helped make the band stand out in a saturated sea of Grateful Dead wannabes with their diverse inclusions of Latin and blues sounds. Another key factor in helping the band was Corey Dwyer.

See also: Best Tribute Act Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2012 - Crazy Fingers

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GWAR Frontman Dave Brockie, the Great Oderus Urungus, Found Dead

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

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Photo by Ian Witlen
We just read the very sad news today that the great Oderus Urungus has left this scummy planet for good. Dave Brockie was found dead in his Richmond, VA home, according to TMZ.


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Harold Ramis RIP: Writer and Director of Caddyshack, South Florida's Funniest Film

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

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Justin Hoch

In the '80s, kids' first Ghostbusters dress-up choice was to pretend to be Bill Murray's Peter Venkman, then Slimer, followed by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But eventually, some kid would be saddled with the bespectacled Egon Spengler, such is life for the straight man. Harold Ramis, who played second fiddle to Bill Murray not only in the Ghostbusters movies, but also in Stripes, passed away today and though he will be best remembered as a sidekick, his resume is one that shows him a comedic mind second to none.

Not only did Ramis co-write the afore mentioned Stripes and Ghostbusters movies, he also contributed in one way or another to just about every 1980s comedy worth a damn. He was one of the writers of Animal House, Meatballs, and Back to School. He wrote and directed National Lampoon's Vacation and Groundhog Day, but if you had to pick one slapstick masterpiece that he was involved in that stood above the rest (which for a child of the '80s is like asking an art historian select a favorite portion of the Sistine Chapel) it would have to be his directorial debut, Caddyshack.

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Lou Reed: We Remember the Legend

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

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Wikipedia Commons

Lou Reed was the ego to Iggy Pop's streetwalking cheetah id and Bowie's grandiose glam super ego. His stories were seedy, but he told them like Homer: epic, sentimental, otherworldly but, simultaneously, strangely familiar. To invoke a second Freudianism in only three sentences: Lou kept the uncanny weird enough to remain off-beat, but endowed the queers and proto-hipsters that lived in his lyrics with the humanistic relatability of Top 40 pop.

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After Midnight: J.J. Cale Passes Away at Age 74

Categories: Obituaries

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jjcale.com

It's an unfortunate fact, but for many, the name J.J. Cale might just as well belong to John Cale, the ex-Velvet Underground musical provocateur, or J.J. Abrams, the screenwriter and producer, or, well, anyone or no one at all.

Songwriter and musician Cale, who died Friday of a heart attack in La Jolla, California, at age 74, pursued his craft nestled somewhere under the radar. Not that he avoided recognition; he recorded 15 albums in all, beginning with Naturally, his 1972 debut and one of the earliest offerings on Leon Russell's fledgling Shelter Records label. His efforts brought him well up to the present day, culminating in the 2006 song summit with longtime friend and fellow traveler Eric Clapton, the Grammy Award-winning collaboration The Road to Escondido, and, just this year, his contribution to Clapton's current covers album, Old Sock.

In truth, though, it wasn't Cale's recordings that will solidify his lingering legacy. It was the song classics he penned, like "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" as interpreted by Clapton. Or "Call Me the Breeze," a staple of Lynyrd Skynrd's. Or "Ride Me High" and "Travelin' Light," appropriated by Widespread Panic. Or any of his tunes covered by Santana, the Allman Brothers, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash.

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