Here's to the rock'n'rollers, among them musicians, producers, writers and more, who have sadly left us in 2021.
Thank you for the music.
Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom), 8 April 1979 – late December 2020
Former Children Of Bodom leader Alexi Laiho’s death at the age of 41 was announced on January 4. Although no cause of death was specified, the Finnish singer and guitarist had reportedly been suffering from what were described as “long term health issues”.
Laiho founded Children Of Bodom in 1993, and led them until they split up at the end of 2019. In 2020, he formed a new band, Bodom After Midnight.
- Alexi Laiho was more than just the man behind Children Of Bodom – he was the mad scientist of modern metal
Gerry Marsden (Gerry And The Pacemakers), 24 September 1942 – 3 January 2021
Gerry Marsden, singer and guitarist with early 60s Merseybeat stars Gerry And The Pacemakers, died at the age of 78 after a short illness. Contemporaries of The Beatles, The Pacemakers became the first band to reach the top of the UK singles chart with their first three releases: How Do You Do It?, I Like It and the evergreen You'll Never Walk Alone.
William ‘Jesus’ Jellett, 6 June 1941 – 8 Jan 2021
William Jellett, aka "Jesus", was a legendary UK music fan known for his frequently naked appearances at UK music festivals throughout the 70s and 80s. The Dorset-born Jellett was a fixture at gigs by everyone from Cream and Queen and to Hawkwind and Motörhead. He famously got his nickname at Blind Faith's Hyde Park show in June 1969, when DJ Jeff Dexter publicly referred to him as "Jesus" over the PA.
Marsha Zazula (Megaforce Records co-founder) 21 April 1952 – 10 January 2021
Marsha Zazula, who co-founded powerhouse US metal label Megaforce with her husband Jon, passed away on January 9 after a battle with cancer. The Zazulas were responsible for launching the careers of Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, King’s X and more. “Marsha Z is the Metal Matriarch of the East Coast. She was our mother when I had none,” said James Hetfield in a tribute. “She made great sacrifices for Metallica to grow.”
Mark Keds (Senseless Things) died 11 January 2021
Former frontman with early 90s British indie-punks Senseless Things Mark Keds died of unspecified causes at the age of 50. Keds was also briefly a member of The Wildhearts, as well as Jolt, Lams, Trip Fontaine and Deadcuts.
Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge/Cactus/Beck Bogert & Appice), 27 August 1944 – 13 January 2021
US bassist Tim Bogert died on January 13 at the age of 76. He made his name as a member of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck & Bogert Appice in the late 60s and early 70s. He later worked with Boxer, Rick Derringer and Hollywood Monsters.
Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls / The Criminals), 14 February 1951 – 13 January 2021
New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain died at the age of 69. The news was confirmed by former Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, who wrote, "Sylvain Sylvain, the heart and soul of the New York Dolls, bearer of the Teenage News, passed into his next astral incarnation on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.
"Syl loved rock and roll. His onstage joy, his radiant smile as he chopped at his guitar, revealed the sense of wonder he must have felt at the age of 10, emigrating from his native Cairo with his family in 1961, the ship pulling into New York Harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time."
Phil Spector (convicted murderer and music producer) 26 December 1939 – 16 January 2021
'Wall of Sound' producer Phil Spector died in prison at the age of 81, where he was serving time for murder. His death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Spector produced multiple American Top 10 hits in the first half of the 1960s, his signature "Wall of Sound" bringing success to The Crystals, The Ronettes, The Righteous Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner and more, and influencing a generation of artists including the Beach Boys, The Beatles, the Velvet Underground, Bruce Springsteen and The Ramones.
In 2009 Phil Spector was convicted of the second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson, who'd appeared in Barbarian Queen and Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the 1980s.
Hilton Valentine (Animals guitarist) 21 May 1943 – 29 January 2021
Hilton Valentine, original guitarist and founding member of The Animals, died at the age of 77.
In 1963 he was recruited to join The Animals alongside Chas Chandler, Alan Price and John Steel. He went on to play on classics like Baby Let Me Take You Home, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, It’s My Life and Don’t Bring Me Down, and on the band's landmark, trans-Atlantic number one cover of the traditional folk song The House of the Rising Sun.
“It really was Hilton who made the early Animals a rock band because I don’t think the element of rock was in the band until we found him," Eric Burdon told Guitar International. "Hilton wasn’t just playing rock‘n’roll, he looked rock‘n’roll."
Elliot Mazer (Producer) September 6, 1941 - February 7, 2021
Producer Elliot Mazer died at the age of 79. The news was confirmed by his sister, Bonnie Murray, who told Rolling Stone that Mazer had died of a heart attack after years spent battling dementia.
Mazer was most famous for his work with Neil Young, working on a string of releases including Harvest, Journey Through The Past, Times Fades Away, Tonight's The Night, American Stars & Bars, Hawks & Doves, Everybody's Rockin', Old Ways, Lucky 13 and the recently released "lost" album Homegrown. He also worked with The Band, Janis Joplin, Rory Gallagher and many more.
Sean Kennedy (I Killed The Prom Queen / Deez Nuts bassist) died February 23, 2021
Sean Kennedy, former bassist of Australian metalcore outfit I Killed The Prom Queen died at the age of 35.
Sean played bass on I Killed The Prom Queen’s first two records, 2003’s When Goodbye Means Forever and 2006’s Music For The Recently Deceased. He also played bass for Deez Nuts, appearing on 2015’s Word Is Bond, 2017’s Binge & Purgatory, and 2019’s You Got Me Fucked Up.
Ex- Prom Queen vocalist Michael Crafter said, “For years we stood side by side on stage or in band photos. We slept on floors, in vans, planes and some how managed to tour the world. Time went way [too] fast. We experienced highs and lows on the road and after all we went through, you will always be my friend. As the years passed us by I’m glad we’ve always been there for each other."