In Memoriam: Remembering those we lost in 2020

Len Barry (June 12, 1942 – November 5, 2020)

Len Barry, American vocalist, songwriter and record producer, was best known as being the voice behind The Dovells, with their standout 1958 single Mope-Itty Mope. Forming the group that soon became The Dovells in 1957, Barry sang on their Top Ten hits The Bristol Stomp and You Can't Sit Down. Barry also had a successful career as a solo artist. 

Gordon Haskell (April 27, 1946 – October 15, 2020)

Gordon Haskell was a solo performer and most notably former bassist/vocalist with King Crimson

Haskell released It Is And It Isn't in 1971 on Atlantic Records which featured a guest appearance from future King Crimson bassist John Wetton and later almost joined folk proggers Stackridge. After struggling as a solo artist for a number of years Haskell's How Wonderful You Are from 2001's Look Out album reached No. 2 in the UK charts (denied the Christmas Number One slot by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman's cover of Somethin' Stupid).

The success lead to a major deal with EastWest Records, for whom he released the Harry's Bar album in 2002. Haskell released The Cat Who's Got The Cream earlier this year.

Spencer Davis (July 17, 1939 – October 19, 2020)

Spencer Davis formed the Spencer Davis Group in 1963 as guitarist and leader, with Steve Winwood (keyboards, guitar), his brother, Muff Winwood (bass guitar) and Pete York on drums. 

The Birmingham four-piece’s electrifying mix of jazz, soul and R&B scored them two early No.1 hits – Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me, both written by Jamaican songwriter Jackie Edwards – and their first three albums had all gone Top 10. 

Tony Lewis (December 21, 1957 – October 19, 2020)

Tony Lewis formed The Outfield in 1984 with guitarist John Spinks and drummer Alan Jackman. The trio had previously played together for several years in power pop act Sirius B, but a change in direction to a rockier sound with The Outfield was almost immediately successful.

The following year debut album Play Deep entered the US Top 10, ferried there by the success of the single Your Love, a radio-friendly AOR number that's subsequently become a staple of 80s-themed compilations. Play Deep went on to sell triple platinum. 

Stan Kesler (August 11, 1928 – October 26, 2020)

American musician, producer and songwriter, Stan Kesler was a vital figure within rock'n'roll, working with names such as Jerry Lee Lewis, James Carr, Sam the Sham and Elvis Presley.

Francis 'Rocco' Prestia (March 7, 1951 – September 29, 2020)

Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia was legendary bassist for Californian funk band Tower Of Power.

“To say that Francis Rocco Prestia was a huge part of the Tower of Power sound is a gross understatement," said the band’s leader Emilio Castillo. "When people listened to Tower Of Power it was always Rocco that they walked away talking about and he had a major impact on the music world.”

Jim Radford (October 1, 1928 – November 6, 2020)

Not only was he the youngest solider in the D-Day landings, war veteran Jim Radford had a successful career as a folk artist. One of his most notable performances consisted of the singer performing his track The Shores Of Normandy at the Royal Albert Hall, 70 years after landing there.

Joseph Shabalala (August 28, 1940 – February 11, 2020)

Joseph Shabalala, was best known as the artist who introduced the music of traditional Zulu to the mainstream. He was also the founder and director of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a choral group who won five Grammy awards, and featured on Paul Simon's Graceland album. 

Astrid Kirchherr (May 20, 1938 – May 12, 2020)

Astrid Kirchherr was a photographer who followed The Beatles from the very beginning. Using black and white film, her work was applauded by the band for years to come. Her time with the group was collated into a book in 2018, named Astrid Kirchherr with The Beatles.

Edward Van Halen (Jan 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020)

Eddie Van Halen performs onstage at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois, April 6, 1979

(Image credit: Paul Natkin / Getty Images)

The Mozart of electric guitar, Eddie Van Halen revolutionised rock music with his band, the mighty Van Halen, and redefined what it meant to be a guitarist – Eddie's innovative two-handed ‘tapping’ technique made him the most influential guitarist since Jimi Hendrix – and provided a template for thousands of musicians to follow.

"I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning," said his son Wolfgang.

"He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift. 

"My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop."

Read Eddie Van Halen: the life and times of a guitar god

Brent Young (Died September 25, 2020)

Former Trivium bassist and guitarist Brent Young played on the band's Caeruleus EP (also known as 'the blue demo'), released in 2003, and the following year's debut album, Ember To Inferno

Harold Budd (May 24, 1936 – December 8, 2020)

Harold Budd, a pioneer of ambient music, became an acclaimed composer in the minimalist and avant-garde scene in the late 1960s. He later became better known for his work with figures such as the Cocteau Twins and Brian Eno

Ken Hensley (August 24, 1945 - November 4, 2020)

Ken Hensley was Uriah Heep’s keyboard player and chief songwriter from 1970 to 1980. He was also a multi-instrumentalist and producer. 

Uriah Heep leader leader Mick Box shared a post on Facebook, saying, "I received devastating news this morning from Ken’s manager Steve Weltman that Ken Hensley has passed away. I had just finished watching his video of the unboxing of the 50th Anniversary Box Set last night, where he seemed absolutely fine and justifiably proud of his time in Uriah Heep, which has just added to the shock.

"We may not have always been the best of friends, but there were some wonderful times we shared too, which are the ones I will always remember. Ken wrote some amazing songs in his tenure with the band, and they will remain a musical legacy that will be in people’s hearts forever."

Baron Wolman (June 25, 1937 - November 2, 2020)

Baron Wolman was an American photographer most commonly recognized for his work in the late 1960s for the music magazine Rolling Stone. He was the first photographer to ever shoot for the magazine and was 2011's Classic Rock VIP Award winner. Wolman published a number of books collating his work, including Baron Wolman – The Rolling Stone Years, Woodstock, Groupies, My Generation and Jimi Hendrix. 

Sean Malone (January 1, 1970 – December 9, 2020)

Sean Malone joined Cynic ahead of the release of their 1993 debut album Focus, and rejoined the group when they reformed in 2008. In the interim years Malone worked as a session bassist, released a solo album, Cortlandt, and authored four books, Music Theory for Bassists, Dictionary Of Bass Grooves, Rock Bass, and A Portrait of Jaco: The Solos Collection, a book of transcriptions of Jaco Pastorius’ bass solos.

“I learned today that Sean Malone has died,” Cynic vocalist/guitarist Paul Masvidal wrote in a statement on Instagram, announcing the news of Malone’s death. “I am numb and grief stricken. 

"He had a brilliant mind, a gracious heart and was one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever encountered. I know that this is a shocking loss for so many fans whose lives he touched with his artistry, as it is for me. Please keep him in your thoughts and listen to his playing to celebrate his life.”

Leslie West (October 22, 1945 – December 22, 2020)

Leslie West was best known as the guitarist and co-vocalist of legendary Long Island, New York, hard rock pioneers Mountain.

West suffered cardiac arrest at his home near Daytona, Florida, on December 21, and never regained consciousness.

Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler was among the first rock stars to pay tribute to the influential guitarist, hailing West’s riff on Mountain’s hard rock standard Mississippi Queen, as “one of, if not the greatest, riff of all time.”


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