Robert “Bob 2″ Casale, founding guitarist of experimental new wavers Devo, has passed away from heart failure at the age of 61. ”As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning” said Casale’s brother Gerald, himself a fellow founder of the band, on the group’s Facebook page this morning. “He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.”
Legendary folk music icon Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94. He was as famous for his work championing folk music and for his committal to civil rights as he was as a singer, instrumentalist (he played both guitar and banjo) and writer of such folk standards as “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)” and “Turn, Turn, Turn!” His career as a performer spanned over70 years, going all the way back to the seminal folk groups as The Weavers and The Almanac Singers. In later years he became an elder statesman of folk music, mentoring Bob Dylan and Don McLean among others. Read more…
Terrible news to pass along. We’re getting word that Adam “MCA” Yauch, one of the three members of the Beastie Boys, has passed away at the age of 47 years old. Yauch had been fighting cancer since a diagnosis in 2009, and it appears that the terrible disease got the best of him today.
The Beastie Boys began their career in the late 1970s as punk group playing hardcore thrash music in underground clubs in New York City, but when they teamed up with NYU student Rick Rubin circa 1984, they began experimenting with the fledgling sounds of hip-hop. Nobody quite understood the group’s potential at the time, but by the time 1986 rolled around, thanks to the Beastie Boys’ good looks, dangerous-yet-radio-ready rhymes and the trademark Def Jam sound that fused classic rock riffs with huge breakbeats, the threesome — Adam “MCA” Yauch, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz— became breakout superstars with the release of Licensed To Ill.
From the outset, Adam “MCA” Yauch’s distinctive, gravelly voice was the element that prevented the Beasties from being viewed at the outset purely as a cartoon-y, novelty “white rapper” act. Both Ad-Rock and Mike D had slightly nasally voices, but MCA —the eldest Beastie— provided the group an air of machismo and danger. “Born and bred Brooklyn U.S.A. / They all me Adam Yauch but I’m M.C.A.,” he sang in “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” as a formal introduction to his character. “Like a lemon to a lime a lime to a lemon / I sip the def ale with all the fly women.”
Sad news to pass along. After a long battle with leukemia, it has been announced that the legendary singer Etta James has died at the age of 73. The storied American blues, soul, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, gospel, and jazz singer’s terminal illness was originally diagnosed with leukemia back in 2010, and finally succumbed to the illness with her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons by her side.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, James began formal vocal training at age five, participating in her local Baptist Church’s choir, and by age 14 she had a number one hit in 1955 with her doo-wop band, Peaches, entitled “The Wallflower (Dance With Me, Henry).” James signed to Argo Records in 1960 under which she released her two most lauded albums, At Last! and The Second Time Around. Her two most highly-regarded songs are “At Last,” released in 1961, and “I’d Rather Go Blind,” released in 1968.
Over her illustrious career, James released 30 albums and 58 singles, despite battling a heroin addiction in the 1960s and ’70s. James won six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards, and was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as #22 on the 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time list and #62 on their 100 Greatest Artists list. James was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008.
Her timeless work has been noted as a primary influence by artists like Adele, Kanye West (who sampled her take on “My Funny Valentine” for his song “Addiction”) and Beyoncé, who portrayed James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records. Beyoncé even performed “At Last” during the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama in 2009. Even today, her voice is all over pop radio: Her vocals from the song “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” have been sampled by both Avicii (“Levels”) and Flo Rida (“Good Feeling”) for the choruses of their wildly popular songs.
Etta James was truly a music legend, and will be remembered and revered always for her soul shaking vocals and talent as singer, performer and songwriter.
[Photos: Getty Images]