Joe Cocker Dead at Age 70

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

In the latest blow to a music world already shaken by the sudden deaths of some indelible icons, the passing of Joe Cocker today caps a difficult year of unexpected losses. Cocker, age 70, died today of cancer at his home.

Cocker provided rock with one of its most passionate performances when he took the stage at the landmark Woodstock Festival clad in tie-dye, gyrating like a mad man wailing resolutely. That famous posture helped sustain his career for the next 45 years, scoring the occasional hit while veering to the middle of the road. And that gravelly voice remained his constant, whether in the company of his group, the Grease Band, helming the sprawling communal combo dubbed Mad Dogs and Englishmen, or partnering with singer Jennifer Warnes on his biggest hit of all, "Up Where We Belong" for An Officer and a Gentleman.

See also: Joe Cocker on John Belushi's Impression of Him: "I Thought Vocally, He Did Quite a Clever Job"

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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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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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The Late Jack Bruce: "I Don't Feel I Have Anything to Prove Anymore"

Categories: Concerts, RIP

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Heinrich Klaffs via Wikipedia Commons

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights, and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, a final interview with the late and legendary Jack Bruce.

The passing of Jack Bruce, who died Friday at age 71, is a loss that didn't resonate only with those who marveled at his early work with British blues greats Graham Bond, John Mayall, and Alexis Korner; his groundbreaking climb to superstardom with Cream; and later, his genre-defying efforts on his own and in the company of others. It also hit hard with a newer generation of fans who witnessed his continuing efforts to shatter stereotypes and forge his own ever-evolving style and circumstance.

Bruce's last album, Silver Rails, released just this past April, demonstrated that the innovation and exploration that's marked Bruce's extraordinarily prolific career was in no danger of slowing down. The composer of one of rock's most enduring riffs -- the signature bass line that defined "Sunshine of Your Love" -- he boasted a career that's veered from blues and jazz to pop, prog rock and heavy metal, even as his role in redefining the function of bass guitar all but assured his lingering legacy.

I had an opportunity to connect with Bruce via email this past May, and while I feared his curmudgeonly reputation might be a bit intimidating for yours truly, it was anything but. Here is part of the transcript from that exchange:

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The Hard Richards' Breakup After Twenty Years of Music, Calling It "Gut-Wrenching"

Categories: RIP

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The original lineup

Palm Beach County show-goers come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. But you would be hard-pressed to find one that hasn't seen the Hard Richards live. Performing locally for a staggering 20 years, this gnarly Boynton Beach crew has played their hearts out and is calling it quits on its own on terms. Going out Seinfeld style, the group is disbanding at a high point, before any outside forces can weigh in on the matter. It's nothing short of the end of a legacy, and the crater left in place of the Hard Richards will be near impossible to fill.

The band played its last show and Propaganda's Summer Daze, day one, last week. Jager shots were consumed, tears were shed, and moshing commenced for one last time. To reflect on the past two decades and look toward what the future might hold, we talked with original frontman Steve Abbott, who's seen it all. He started this band right out of high school and it's consumed half of his lifetime, so this news is equal parts heartbreaking and relieving. Read on to get a peek into the mind of a lifelong Hard Richard, coping with the decision to put an end to a band that meant everything to him.

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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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Remembering Kurt Cobain: Nirvana's 1993 Miami Concert

Categories: RIP

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It's April 8. It's been 20 years since Kurt Cobain shot himself. Unlike the O.J. Simpson chase or 9/11 or the Challenger explosion, I can't exactly remember where I was when I heard the news, though I do remember MTV solemnly covering it all that weekend. A friend pointed out that Cobain was, at the time, the biggest rock star in the world. I threw out names to prove my friend wrong. Eddie Vedder? Michael Stipe? The Crash Test Dummies guy?

Twenty years later, there's no contest. Vedder's output sounds dated. Trent Reznor is a mogul for music streaming services, the Red Hot Chili Peppers lip-sync at the Super Bowl, and Axl Rose is whatever Axl Rose has become. But Cobain is and always will be 27 and too pure for a world that mixed rock 'n' roll with commerce.

"I wish I was like you/easily amused" sounds so much more profound knowing his fate than it would if Kurt was still around to do guest vocals on a Foo Fighters album.


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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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Stooges' Scott Asheton, the Cornerstone of Punk Drumming, Dead at 64

Categories: RIP

As the internet buzzed out-of-control over the Wayne Knight hoax of 2014, rock 'n' roll quietly lost a true original and proper sonic dissident with the unexpected passing of Scott Asheton, a founding member and the percussive thunder of the Stooges.

Asheton's death is being attributed to an undisclosed illness. However, the 64-year-old drummer suffered a serious stroke in 2011 that removed him from the drum throne for quite a while.

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