With the death of two legends from the music industry during Black History Month, it came natural for me to briefly talk about some other music greats who died. In the past nine years death has claimed the lives of many unique voices from the music industry. There are very few people who can compare to these artists.
Barry White, the man with the baritone voice, died in 2003. There is no one today that can captivate the ladies with his baritone voice like White did.
The man in love with Mary Jane and the man with Georgia on his mind died in 2004. No one is as cool or bold as Rick James to get away with calling someone a female dog on stage. Why? Because he’s Rick James B!
We saw the troubling life of soulful singer of Ray Charles in the movie Ray that premiered months after his death.
Some nights when I’m feeling restless I can put on some Luther Vandross. His song “Dance with My Father,” made me think about how grateful I am to have my father in my life. I believe Ruben Studdard did a great job with his rendition of Luther’s “Superstar.” The soft singing artist died from a heart attack in 2005.
In 2006 four music legends died. Member of Levert and LSG, Gerald Levert the Teddy Bear died a short time after completing his new album In My Songs. Lord knows I like his soulful voice, I can hear the passion in his voice when I hear his songs. Just listen to his song “In My Songs” from his last album and tell me you don’t hear passion in his voice. Lou Rawls and Wilson Pickett died within weeks of each other. If we think back to our Nickelodeon days we can remember Rawls voice as Harvey the mailman on “Hey Arnold.”
Our generation may not know many of their songs but our grandparents probably know hits such as “Mustang Sally” or “You’ll Never Find another Love like Mine.” I definitely can remember the day we lost the Godfather of Soul, James Brown on Christmas day. There aren’t enough words to describe James Brown and his combination of dance moves and his soulful voice.
In 2008 the music industry had to say good-bye to Isaac Hayes and Eartha Kitt. Kitt, known for her recording of “Santa Baby”, ironically but sadly died on Christmas day. I don’t know much about Hayes, but I will always remember him for the theme song of the movie Shaft.
Just a day a before the BET Awards 2009 and the King of Pop was dead. I remember watching the last minute of the local news when I heard Michael Jackson died. That was one hard working man. He was good at singing and dancing. Hits like “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Remember the Time” play in my head when I think about him. Jackson currently holds the record for taking home the most Grammys in one night when he won eight in 1983. Like James Brown, who he admired, there is just too much to say about Michael Jackson in one article.
It was a T.K.O. when Teddy Pendergrass died in 2010. I believe many can relate to being in high school and hearing someone sing “Turn off the Lights” when a teacher turned off the lights in a classroom. The gospel genre lost Rev. Walter Hawkins to pancreatic cancer. And in 2011 Nick Ashford from Ashford & Simpson who were known for their song “Ain’t Nothin like the Real Thing,” died.
Thanks to the help of my father, I know something about old school music. Thinking about these people makes me understand when my parents’ generation says, “Music just isn’t the same anymore.” These artists and many more will be greatly missed.