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In Memoriam: Remembering those we lost in 2020

Julie Felix (June 14, 1938 – March 22, 2020)

Known as "Britain’s first lady of folk", Julie Felix was an American-born, British-based folk recording artist, known for her appearances on British television in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She later performed and released albums on her own record label.


Bill Rieflin (September 29, 1960 – March 24, 2020)

Drummer Bill Rieflin played with a wide range of artists including King Crimson, R.E.M., Ministry, Swans and KMFDM.

“A forever memory is decades old, when I first met Bill at a late night policeman’s bar in Seattle, sat at a greasy table drinking scotch, and we listened to Birdland off the jukebox in reverent silence and awe," said R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe of his friend. 

“His attentiveness to that song then and there indicated a lot to me about what it would be to work with Bill, which commenced to create some magical and beautiful collaborations and life long friendships.

“And so to Bill now, he is among all the fine points of the stars and we are looking up with love, and with our own reverence for his beauty, his humour, his relentless curiosity and of course his incredible musical ear, his time here with us so precious and golden.”


Alan Merrill (February 19, 1951 – March 29, 2020)

Alan Merrill was a singer, guitarist, songwriter and actor, most famously known as being the writer behind I Love Rock’N’Roll. The track was made a global hit for Joan Jett in 1982, and has since been covered by numerous artists such as Britney Spears.

Merrill was a victim of the pandemic, with his daughter confirming his passing in a statement. "The coronavirus took my father this morning," she said. "I was given two minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. 

"He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen.

"I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone.

"If anything can come of this I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think it’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has."


Adam Schlesinger (October 31, 1967 – April 1, 2020)

Adam Schlesinger, singer and multi-instrumentalist, was best known for his work with Fountains Of Wayne on their five studio albums and their 2003 hit single Stacy’s Mom, but was also involved with the bands Ivy and Tinted Windows.

He composed tracks for films, including the title song for the 1996 Tom Hanks comedy That Thing You Do!. He also served as the executive music producer on comedy drama Crazy Ex-Girlfriend which ran for four seasons, coming to an end in 2019.

Hanks paid tribute to Schlesinger, saying: “There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger, without his That Thing You Do!. He was a One-der. Lost him to Covid-19. Terribly sad today.”

Dashboard Confessional frontman Chris Carrabba added: “I am grasping for the right words. My dear friend Adam Schlesinger has passed away from COVID-19. You know him best through his music... I knew him best as a mentor and a friend. We must take this seriously. People are sick and dying. It is hard to stay locked indoors but lives will be saved. Take care of each other. Rest In Peace, my dear friend.”


Michael Appleton (Died April 2, 2020)

Michael Appleton was a British television producer and editor of the BBC TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test, a series that hosted many of music's household names, and aired on BBC2 from 1971 to 1988. 


John Prine (October 10, 1946 – April 7, 2020)

Grammy-winning American country-folk singer and literary genius, John Prine was best known for his track In Spite Of Ourselves, among others.

Born in Maywood, Illinois, in October 1946, Prine released his self-titled debut album in 1971 and went on to record and release a further 17 studio albums, his last The Tree Of Forgiveness arriving in 2018.

Highly regarded by his peers, Prine's work has been covered by a variety of artists, including Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez.

In his 1997 autobiography CashJohnny Cash said: “I don’t listen to music much at the farm, unless I’m going into songwriting mode and looking for inspiration. 

“Then I’ll put on something by the writers I’ve admired and used for years – Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Guy Clark, and the late Steve Goodman are my Big Four – or any music in any field that has real artistry, or something that promises a connection to what’s essential in my own music: Old blues, old country, old gospel.”


Hal Willner (April 6, 1956 – April 7, 2020)

Hal Willner was an American producer, working in recording, films, TV and live events. He produced for a variety of artists such as Lou Reed, Metallica and Marianne Faithfull.


Pete Way (August 7, 1950 – August 14, 2020)

Pete Way, bass guitar for Ozzy Osbourne Speak of the Devil tour 14 December 1982 Wembley Arena

(Image credit: Solomon N'Jie / Getty Images)

“They call me a madman, but compared to Pete Way I’m outta' my league; he’s fucking mental!” says Ozzy, when speaking of the legendary bass player. Pete Way was known for his limelight-stealing, swaggering stage presence, and played for a number of artists including UFO, Waysted, Fastway, Ozzy and more.

"Iconic bass player Pete Way founder of UFO, Waysted and, latterly, The Pete Way Band has died," a statement on his Facebook page confirmed.

"He sustained life threatening injuries in an accident two months ago but fought hard until finally succumbing to those injuries at 11.35am BST today. His wife, Jenny, was at his side.

"Pete Way was a much loved and highly regarded figure among rock fans, critics and fellow musicians alike. Best known for his work with UFO, Pete’s energetic live performances were at the heart of the band’s countless world tours. 

"His melodic bass lines underpinned the catalogue of enduring rock classics upon which UFO’s reputation and legacy were founded."


Steve Farmer (December 31, 1948 – April 7, 2020)

Best known for his composition with Ted Nugent on Journey To The Centre Of The Mind, Steve Farmer was an American guitarist, composer and lyricist.


Big George Brock (May 16, 1932 – April 10, 2020)

George Brock was a Mississippi harmonica bluesman to the biggest names in blues, performing alongside Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Albert King.


Kenny Young (April 14, 1941 – April 14, 2020)

Grammy-winning American songwriter, Kenny Young wrote numerous hits for the likes of The Drifters, Ronnie Dove, Herman's Hermits, Mark Lindsay, Reparata And The Delrons and more.


Brian Howe (July 22, 1953 – May 6, 2020)

Howe spent almost a decade fronting the Paul Rodgers-less Bad Company when Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke reactivated the band name in 1985, after being recommended to the pair by Mick Jones of Foreigner.

Born in Portsmouth, Howe’s first band was called Shy (not to be confused by the Midlands-based group of the same name). He then replaced Bruce Ruff in the NWOBHM band White Spirit, once the home of Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, for a short spell. 

Howe joined Ted Nugent’s band in 1984, singing on the Penetrator album. Upon completion of a world tour with Nugent he received a received a call from Jones, who was assisting Ralphs and Kirke in assembling a new Bad Co.

“Almost without exception, everybody in the business told me: ‘Brian… Taking over from Paul Rodgers, you’ve just fucked yourself. Why would you even consider doing something like that?’” Howe told Classic Rock in 2004. “I just wouldn’t let them be right, which provided a focus and caused me to work a lot, lot harder.”

Read Brian Howe interview: Bad Company and beyond


Roy Williams (Died April 29, 2020)

Roy Williams served as Robert Plant’s long-serving sound engineer and worked on the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion. 


John McKenzie (November 10, 1955 – May 10, 2020)

Acting as touring bass player for names such as Bowie, Eurythmics, The Pretenders and Alison Moyet, John McKenzie was also a member of bands such as Global Village Trucking Company and Man.


Joey Image (March 5, 1957 – June 1, 2020)

Born Joey Poole in 1957, Image joined Misfits in 1978 and played on the Horror Business and Night Of The Living Dead singles. He left Misfits after their ill-fated 1979 UK tour with The Damned and went on to play with artists including The Undead.

Image briefly reunited with Misfits in 2000 for a show at Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room, stepping in at short notice after Dr. Chud quit the band.

In an interview with the Miami New Times in 2017, Image reflected on landing the gig with Misfits.

He said: “They see me playing, and they’re like, ‘Hey, you think you maybe wanna join our band?’ So I took their tape and learned it, and two weeks later I was playing at Max’s Kansas City club in New York.

“I was in the band. That’s how quick it all happened. I was just in the right spot, basically. Plus, I did kick ass.”


Moon Martin (October 31, 1945 – May 11, 2020)

Nicknamed "Moon" due to his frequent use of said Earth's natural satellite within his writing, American singer-songwriter and guitarist Moon Martin gained recognition in the 1970s as a pop artist and composer.