Heavy music fans the world over are mourning the death today of Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord. He died from a pulmonary embolism this morning after battling pancreatic cancer for several years and passed away surrounded by family at the London Clinic.
Lord was a founding member of the seminal hard rock band who are known as one of “The Big Three” of early heavy metal, alongside fellow countrymen Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Formed in London in 1968, the band’s galloping rhythms and neo-classical flourishes expanded and forever influenced metal’s musical language. Their landmark 1972 release Machine Head is one of rock’s essential albums, containing such standards as “Smoke On The Water,” “Highway Star” and “Space Truckin.’” Throughout their discography, Lord’s virtuosic keyboard playing might be the bands most innovative aspect. In a genre primarily known for loud and distorted guitar riffs, his thick and aggressive keyboards gave many of Deep Purple’s heaviest songs their actual heft.
After I heard that Nora Ephron, the author, director and screenwriter behind When Harry Met Sally (arguably the best movie ever), had died, I went into that brief mourning period that we all go through now that it’s 2012 and we mourn via blog memorials and Facebook statuses. I found clips from Sleepless in Seattle I hadn’t watched in years, and I listened to “Coming Around Again,” the song that provided the soundtrack to Heartburn, the film Ephron wrote in response to her divorce from Carl Bernstein.
Awful news to pass along this evening. Bob Welch, who sang and played guitar for Fleetwood Mac during the pre-Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham era, was found dead in his Nashville home this evening after an apparent suicide. The singer, who was 66 years old and had reportedly been suffering from health issues for some time, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Welch was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974, but left the group before the band experienced its massive success with their eponymous 1975 album. He did, however, go on to experience some success as a solo artist; his song “Sentimental Lady,” featuring backing vocals from Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham, was a Top 10 hit in September of 1977.
We were impressed with Jordin Sparks heartfelt tribute to the late Whitney Houston at last night’s Billboard Music Awards. According to Radaronline.com, the last song Houston recorded was released today. Produced by R. Kelly, “Celebrate” is a happy upbeat duet Houston recorded with her Sparkle co-star Jordin Sparks who plays her daughter in the upcoming movie. If Whitney’s strong vocals in this song are any indication of the direction she was headed in prior to her untimely passing, it indeed proves what many have already said–Whitney Houston was ready to make a big comeback.
Houston opens the track sounding nearly as good as she did before her vocals became strained. “Everybody’s been so uptight. Everybody forgetting to live their life,” she sings. Sparks’ higher octave is a beautiful complement to Whitney’s lower gospel tone. “It’s time to celebrate, come on and celebrate,” the duo sing together. This song seems like a perfect embodiment of Whitney Houston–celebrating life and taking in the younger generation of singers with open arms.
For the third time in less than a month, the music world has lost another legend to cancer. After the tragic deaths of Adam “MCA” Yauch and Donna Summer, Bee Gees co-founder Robin Gibb is the latest musician to succumb to the dreaded disease.
“The family of Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, announce with great sadness that Robin passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”
When Donna Summer passed away today at the age of 63, the world lost its undisputed Queens of Disco. During the year 1979, which was arguably the high point of the disco craze, she had five songs chart in the Billboard Top 40 (!!!), three of which — “Hot Stuff”, “Bad Girls” and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”— made it all the way to #1.
Thanks to her incredible vocal range and an ability to appeal pop, rock and R&B audiences, Donna Summer was able to survive the disco implosion (a fate that a lot of her peers cannot claim). In fact, there was a 14-year span in which Summer had songs that made America’s Top 40, a period that began with the release of the sensually charged “Love To Love You Baby” in December of 1975 and closed in May of 1989 with her Top 10 single “This Time I Know It’s For Real.” And although her mass appeal dimmed as the Nineties dawned, she remained a vital creative force; she picked up a Grammy in 1998 for Best Dance Recording, which was just one of five Grammys she won during her legendary career.
While we mourn the loss of an American legend, we thought the best way to pay tribute to her incredible body of work was to put together the following Spotify playlist, which includes all of her songs that charted in the Billboard Top 40*.
Sad news to pass along today. We’ve just learned that Donna Summer has passed away at the age of 63. TMZ reports the Queen of Disco was battling cancer, but chose to keep her illness under wraps. She was in Florida at the time of her death.
Summer’s career began in the mid 70s when she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Summer rose to fame in the 70s with disco hits like “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.” She climbed the charts with 20 Top 40 hits and 4 No. 1s: “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls and “No More Tears.”
At the beginning of her career Summer signed to European label Groovy Records creating her first album Lady of the Night in 1974. Her first American hit, “Love to Love You Baby,” was what would lead to a successful international career. In the UK “Love to Love You Baby” charted in the Top 5, and by 1976 reached the No. 2 spot on the US Billboard 100. The album of the same name sold over one million copies. “I Feel Love” from her 1977 album I Remember Yesterday led to the second Top 10 single for the Queen of Disco. Nearly a year later she landed her first US No. 1 hit with “McArthur Park” featured on her first live album Live and More. It was also her first album to top the charts at No. 1 on Billboard. Live and More went platinum becoming one of the stand out records of her early career. Read more…
As news broke this morning of Adam Yauch‘s death, countless fans and celebs shared memories of MCA on Twitter — sparking trending topics like “Paul’s Boutique” and “No Sleep Til Brooklyn.” But VH1 also wanted to take to the streets of New York City, where the Beastie Boys were born and bred, to talk to people face to face. We can’t say we were surprised to hear how sad New Yorkers are to lose someone so “legendary” and “iconic.”
“Everybody from New York can identify with the Beastie Boys,” said one passerby. “They represented New York so well.” Many mentioned how “shocked” they were to hear the news of Adam’s passing, also unsurprising as there were rumors last year that he had beaten the salivary gland cancer that he was diagnosed with in 2009. One man pleaded, “I hope all his fans will keep him alive.” We definitely will.
VH1 Classic will air two Beastie Boys video blocks on Saturday, May 5 from 7 – 8PM*, and on Sunday, May 6 from 11 AM – 12PM*. Additionally, VH1.com will post special interviews, features and memories over the weekend and is currently calling on fans to tweet their memories of Yauch with the hashtag #MCAmemories.
Jim Shearer interviewing the Beastie Boys in 2004 for MTV's "Live to the 5 Boroughs" special.
As a teenager in high school—one who obsessed over music and the Beastie Boys (not necessarily in that order)—I began to seriously think about what I’d do for a career when I got older. As stupid and/or as awesome as it sounds now, I chose my future profession based solely on getting to meet the Beastie Boys.
I figured being an on-air VJ was my best shot.
In late 2001, my high school aspirations didn’t seem so lofty when I began hosting music video segments for MTV2. In 2003, the dream was in reach as I was scheduled to interview the Beastie Boys at the Field Day Music Festival.
Long story short, certain residents of Long Island protested, the promoters could not secure a permit, and the festival was moved up a day and a state away, inside of Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Sadly, my brother’s wedding was on the same day and I missed making my teenage dream a reality.
Fortunately, a year later the Beastie Boys were on the verge of releasing their new album, To The Five Boroughs, and had signed on to do an MTV2 $2 Bill concert in Las Vegas, which was going to be hosted by guess who?
Earlier today, we passed along the unfortunate news of the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch, one of the co-founders of the Beastie Boys. MCA’s mastery rhyme pattern, gravelly voice and bad boy edge is what made him a legendary MC; even though he is gone, there’s no denying that he has left an indelible imprint in hip-hop forever. The Beastie Boys’ catalog of classic tracks are too numerous to list out, and and the same goes for MCA’s best verses. It was hard to choose, but we’ve narrowed down Adam Yauch’s most unforgettable rhymes into this Top 10 List of the Best Verses of MCA’s Career.
1. “Sure Shot” (Ill Communication, 1994)
“I Want To Say a Little Something That’s Long Overdue / The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through / To All The Mothers And Sisters And the Wives And Friends / I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The End.”
2. “Intergalatic” (Hello Nasty, 1998)
“If you try to knock me you’ll get mocked/I’ll stir fry you in my wok/Your knees’ll start shaking and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock.”
3. “Pass the Mic” (Ill Communication, 1994)
“If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a Musical masterpiece/ But if you can ear what I’m dealing with then that’s cool at least/ What’s running through my mind comes through in my walk true/ Feelings are shown from the way that I talk/ And this is me, y’all/I M.C., y’all/ My name Is M.C.A. and I still do what I please and/ Now I’d Like to introduce I’ll pass the mic to D. for a fist full of truth.”