Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jay Reatard, Teddy Pendergrass, Rowland S. Howard, RIP

Any individual loss seems small compared to the kind of mass human devastation they're seeing in Haiti right now, but over the last couple weeks we have lost some important music figures of different eras (Willie Mitchell already noted below), the most shocking of which has to be the death yesterday of Memphis native Jay Reatard at the age of 29. he had already created a considerable body of work but his drive also was so evident and his music so electric and, well, alive, that his death just seems unreal. the juvenile stage name belied a seriousness and depth to the songwriting and the fury involved in his records. Really sad.

Teddy Pendergrass made classic Philly soul records with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes produced by the Gamble & Huff braintrust. Check this performance from '73. My favorite is Wake Up Everybody, an amazing album. He continued to make music after suffering a spinal cord injury in a car accident in 1982 that paralyzed him from the waist down. Colon cancer killed Pendergrass at 59.

Going back a few weeks and lost a bit in the holiday/new years news cycle, we lost Rowland S. Howard, guitarist with two of my favorite bands - The Birthday Party and later the underrated Crime and the City Solution and on a couple fantastic Jacobites records too. His style was unique and many including myself tried to understand and replicate what he was doing (luckily i stopped trying early on) on the guitar...he created space and dread in a way that punk rock really hadn't up to that point. Howard had a sound and a look, and a presence, that is one of the more unique and influential of the 1980's music world (at least the one i was living in).
Nice tribute here from Everett True.


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