Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for the Doors, has died. He was 74. Manzarek passed away in Germany this morning; he had been fighting bile duct cancer. Along with his work with the Doors, Manzarek produced X's classic Los Angeles album from 1980. Here are the two best songs he did with the Doors:
This one hurts, badly.
Jason Molina, the songwriter behind the Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. monikers as well as some solo recordings under his own name, died Saturday night after a long struggle with alcoholism. Chunklet broke the tragic news, as well as being the first to bring to light Molina's addiction problems a little over a year ago. Pitchfork states the cause of death due to "organ failure due to alcohol consumption."
Molina was famously prolific up until around 2007 or so, with the release of his Sojourner box set. A collaboration with Will Johnson followed, although you can tell by listening to it that all was not well (it is the most depressing record I can think of). Magnolia Electric Co.'s 2009 album Josephine was the last record of new material, although he had much unreleased material in the vaults that has appeared in one form or another since then.
With those countless, spellbinding Songs: Ohia releases and the handful of Magnolia Electric Co. records, there is a lot of documented Molina out there to love, although for me the recordings offered only a part of the picture. I only ever saw him with Magnolia Electric Co., his rock outfit, but those shows were always miraculously good. (I remember them doing a really great cover of Dusty Springfield's "Spooky" one night that I can still hear note-for-note in my head.) The thing I appreciated most about Molina is how he brought an everyday workingman's approach to music and songwriting, treating it like the honest craft or trade that it is. His songs always sought truth, never an easy game. It seems to have taken its toll on Molina. May he rest in peace.
Here's a video of Magnolia Electric Co. performing "Farewell Transmission" in Spain in 2005.
UPDATE: After the jump, an official statement from Molina's label, Secretly Canadian:
In what will go down as a rare setback for the rising stars of Smash Mouth, the Spin Doctors, et al., the Mark McGrath And Friends Cruise has been canceled before it could ever set sail, consigning its mid-’90s artists to the sort of drydock drifting that does not also include make-your-own-sundae bars. The announcement was made with the usual lyricism one has come to expect from the Sugar Ray frontman, who changed the event’s official website to read, “The Mark McGrath & Friends Cruise Has Been Cancelled”...—via A/V Club
A statement from the cruise's Cap'n Mark McGrath, via Twitter:
@fuckthefalcons my apologies, I'm really bummed as well...that poop cruise did us no favors
— mark mcgrath (@mark_mcgrath) February 28, 2013
The sublime singer/songwriter Kevin Ayers—an original member of psych-prog legends Soft Machine (and their predecessors, the Wilde Flowers)—passed away in his sleep Feb. 18 at age 68. The cause of death has not been reported.
Ayers played on Soft Machine’s classic self-titled debut album and then set off on a long and rewarding solo career, all the while occasionally collaborating with innovative musicians such as Brian Eno, Nico, John Cale, Robert Wyatt, and Mike Oldfield. Ayers wrote some of the most memorable and compelling compositions on The Soft Machine (AKA Volume One), including the catchy as hell and exceptionally eccentric “We Did It Again,” “Lullabye Letter,” and “Joy of a Toy.”
Ayers’ first solo LP, Joy of a Toy, established him as one of the most distinctive vocalists in the British rock scene, his deep, lugubrious pipes especially working magic with the drop-dead-gorgeous ballad “Lady Rachel” and the perennially relevant “Song for Insane Times.” (The contemporaneous single “Religious Experience [Singing a Song in the Morning]” with Syd Barrett is also an immortal beauty.) Ayers went on to cut several other great records, including Shooting at the Moon, Bananamour, The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories, and June 1, 1974 (with Eno, Cale, and Nico). Ayers’ final album, The Unfairground, came out in 2007 and featured contributions from Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera and members of Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, among others.
“Decadence”—from 1973's Bananamour—is my favorite Ayers joint, because it anticipates Spiritualized by 17 years and because it’s so incredibly beautiful and hypnotic. RIP, Kevin Ayers.
The man was a cheerful Portland institution. Since at least 2007, Reeves has often occupied a chunk of sidewalk on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge, wearing a Mickey Mouse hat, white suit, and entertaining commuters with constant trumpeting.
A Street Roots profile of Reeves summed up his presence in the city:
Even if you don’t know him, you know him. He of the white tuxedo, the Mickey Mouse hat, planted next to a pull cart full of toys and gadgets that defy graceful description — and a cornet, the top prop in his menagerie, a mere sampling of what he has at home. In a flourish, Reeves pops open a large expandable ball, swings it around in a circle or two, and then collapses it back to the size of a soccer ball. It’s a signature move. The wow-them-in-10-seconds opener to an act that includes a 4-second puppet show for the kids, a miniature magic trick and an optional three-toss juggle finale. All of this squeezed in between the on-ramp serenade he gives drivers as they creep into Hawthorne’s rush-hour traffic.
The cause of Reeve's death is unconfirmed, but he had posted on his Twitter feed last year that he was sick and in the hospital. The medical examiner's office could not comment on Reeves—in all cases, death notices are not made public until someone in the family can be contacted.
Joel Burrows, longtime local musician and fixture of the Portland music scene, has passed away. Burrows performed with many Portland bands and was a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing drums for the Minders and guitar in the Thermals, among his contributions for many other bands. In early 2011, Burrows was struck by a van as he crossed the street and suffered a serious head injury. He spent following months in the ICU and fought valiantly for his life. Burrows made substantial progress and was able to leave the hospital to live in an assisted living facility for people with brain injuries. Back in February of this year, Janet Weiss organized the "Songs for Joel" benefit show at Valentine's—with guests like Britt Daniel, Isaac Brock, Corin Tucker, Laura Veirs, and many other Portland musicians—to provide funds for a necessary wheelchair insert for Burrows. I learned today that Burrows has passed away; he fought bravely for his life for many months and made unforgettable contributions to Portland music. Condolences to his family and friends. He will be dearly missed.
Very sad news from the weekend: Portland musician and artist Blake Mackey has died. Mackey released a number of albums over the years, ranging from acoustic singer/songwriterly stuff to more electric psych, and ran the Architect Records label. Mackey was also the author of a few strongly worded letters to the Mercury that chastised our coverage of the local music scene—too narrow for Mackey's liking. There is little doubt that he was impassioned, committed, and full of love for music and art.
Many of Mackey's recordings are available for download over on Mackey's Blogspot page and are worth checking out. More info about some of Mackey's records is on the page of his label, Architect Records. Here is a recent video that many of his friends have posted to Facebook after his passing. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones. Rest in peace, Blake.
Start your workweek with a funeral. A sort of urban-viking funeral, for Parenthetical Girls frontman Zac Pennington, in their new video for "Curtains," the closing track on the new Privilege, Pt. V. You can read all about the Privilege series in our article on Parenthetical Girls, and you can enjoy the deliciously overwrought imagery of the video. (Conflict-of-Interest Pony—hi, again!—asks that we mention Zac once worked at the Mercury, and that one of the pallbearers is cartoonist/former intern Suzette Smith.) Parenthetical Girls perform this Wednesday, September 12, at the TBA Fest at Washington High School. If you thought this video could have used more melodrama, you should definitely be at that show.
An absolutely terrible day for those of us who love dancey soul music: As Alex mentioned in Good Morning, News, disco diva Donna Summer has died of cancer at age 63, along with one of the "go-go" masters of the mid-'70s Chuck Brown, who passed away at age 75 due to complications from sepsis. I've spent much of my life dancing to these guys, and you can believe it when I say they'll be missed. Here are my fave vids from each.
Well, this is all I can think about today. Here's the official statement about MCA's death, which gives a lot more insight into the man's life, and his achievements in a wide range of fields, not just music.
ADAM YAUCH 1964-2012
It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam "MCA" Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school, forming a band for his 17th birthday party that would later become known the world over as Beastie Boys.
This is not sudden news—Adam Yauch, founder, emcee, bassist, and more of the astonishingly influential Beastie Boys, has died of cancer at age 47. He had been battling the disease for a while, but the news of his passing still comes as a shock to me. It's still stunning to look at the trajectory of the Beasties—starting off as hardcore punks, then breaking through as smartass party hiphoppers, then more or less becoming one of the greatest American bands ever, with records like Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head, and Ill Communication. Their musical and artistic development become a fundamental part of my life, and I'm sure the same can be said by anyone who grew up listening to them.
Yauch, you were amazing. Thanks for everything. There is a LOT of incredible Beasties music to choose from, but these two songs immediately jumped to mind. RIP, MCA.
Levon Helm of the Band died at 10:30 Eastern time this morning. He was an amazing drummer, and incredible singer, and also a very good actor (Coal Miner's Daughter!) I've heard a great, hilarious story about Levon that I can't repeat here, but if you see me sometime, grab me and I'll tell it to you. The man was a champion. Here are two wonderful videos, one old and one new.
The Band at Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, 1970.
And here's a PBS video from one of Levon's infamous Midnight Rambles, held at his barn up in Woodstock. This was shot a mere two months ago.
Rest in peace, Levon. You will be greatly missed.
Sad news: Davy Jones of the Monkees has passed away at age 66. He died of a heart attack this morning in Florida. Davy Jones was the sole British member of the Monkees, the band that was formed to star in a '60s NBC TV series and ended up putting out several huge hit records, including "Daydream Believer," which Jones sang. In fact, another young British singer named David Jones was motivated to change his last name to Bowie so that he wouldn't be confused with the famous Monkee.
As someone who was raised in the era of Monkees reruns on MTV and Nickelodeon, and as someone who subsequently became a big fan of the band's music, this comes very sad news. The Monkees toured last year, and I got to see them live for the first time; the show was, sadly, a big disappointment to me, feeling more like a Vegas revue than a concert. However, for a band that was labeled the "Pre-Fab Four," perhaps the slickness and hamminess was appropriate. Still, the end of that reunion tour was canceled prematurely, with acrimony among the remaining members of the Monkees.
Jones was more of an actor than a musician, although he did end up writing some material for the band. Perhaps his best song is "You and I," a song he co-wrote with Bill Chadwick and which appeared on the Monkees' 1969 album Instant Replay. (Check it out here; Neil Young played guitar on it.) However, Jones will likely be best remembered for "Daydream Believer," a song written by John Stewart which hit number 1 in 1967.
Rest in peace, Davy.
After leaving KNRK, Cooley briefly worked in Phoenix at KEDJ/KEXX, but she had since returned to the Portland area. She died at the home of her father and stepmother while in the hot tub. Partly in response to the wild and perhaps distasteful speculation into the nature of her death—which at this time has not been determined beyond an unfortunate accident—Cooley's family has prepared the following statement:
We lost Jaime in a tragic accidental drowning on Feb 4th. It is our wishes to have a private service for the family, followed by a public memorial Friday, Feb 10th at Lola’s Room (1332 West Burnside Street, Portland, OR) from 5-8. We are also requesting that donations in her name be made to the Pacific Pug Rescue:Our deepest sympathies and condolences to Jaime's family, loved ones, and friends. She will be greatly missed.
This was one of her favorites:
Bad news! Pitchfork pulled the plug today on its baby brother site Altered Zones after just 16 months. The site compiled submissions of from 14 different blogs, and was known for publishing the fringe stuff you don't always see on Pitchfork: hypnagogic pop, noise, avant garde, etc. While the site got a lot of shit for essentially just taking the efforts of influential bloggers and putting a Pitchfork stamp on them, the writing was often exceptional, and the content stands as a singular document of the last 16 months of experimental music.
So what will happen to all the bloggers affected? Most of them will continue to operate their own websites and labels, but it's really anyone's guess whether or not they'll survive their sudden loss of audience. There is at least one thing we can look forward to though: the eventual launch of AZ editors Ric Leichtung and Emilie Friedlander's new music and culture website Ad Hoc.
Click on the jump to view AZ's final sign-off.
Tip for End Hits?
Email them here.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!