Local Current Blog

The music lives on: Musicians we lost in 2013

A detail from the cover of Lou Reed's "Street Hassle" (1978)

The New York Times has published a fascinating video tribute to musicians of national and international significance who died in 2013. The most prominent, for rock fans, was Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed; but the Times video also reminds viewers of the lives and music of others we lost last year. Among them:

• Woodstock legend Richie Havens.

• Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist who helped define the Doors’ sound.

Reg Presley, who sang “Wild Thing” and other hits for the Troggs.

J.J. Cale, the singer-songwriter who was beloved among his peers and best known to the public for writing the Eric Clapton hit “Cocaine.”

• Country stars George Jones (referred to in the Times video as a “hard-living country singer”), Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Slim Whitman.

• R&B performers Bobby Rogers (the Miracles); Clarence Burke Jr. (the Five Stairsteps); Cleotha Staples (the Staple Singers); Floyd “Buddy” McRae (the Chords); and Damon Harris and Richard Street (both of the Temptations).

• Classic rockers Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), Allen Lanier (Blue Öyster Cult), and Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner (the Ohio Players).

• Bassists Rick Huxley (the Dave Clark Five) and Trevor Bolder (David Bowie).

• Sadly young losses Christina Amphlett, the Divinyls frontwoman who died at 53 after fighting breast cancer and MS; and Devo drummer Alan Meyers, who died of stomach cancer at 58.

The only Minnesota musician included in the Times video is Patty Andrews, the last surviving Andrews Sister, who died of natural causes at the age of 94. Andrews was born in Mound in 1918—77 years before Zach Sobiech was born in St. Paul. Sobiech died of osteosarcoma in May, but only after writing and recording music including “Clouds,” a moving anthem that brought him international fame.

Other Minnesota musicians who died in 2013 included Andrews contemporary Jeanne Arland Peterson, known as “the matriarch of Minnesota jazz”; Steve Kramer of the Wallets; and Henry Mackaman of Phantom Vibrations. Minnesotans also said goodbye this year to pioneering concert promoter Sue McLean; Billy Sverkerson, a First Avenue employee and former 400 Bar manager; and Cabooze manager Jason Aukes.

Whether they were standing at center stage or offstage, each of these late greats helped to create unforgettable musical experiences for generations. Though they’ve passed, the music lives on.