[In doing some much needed spring cleaning we came across a number of news items that, even though slightly dusty in a few cases, still deserve some notice. Sadly, topping the list is the loss of a number of diverse artistic talents whose contributions to music will be sorely missed. --Ed.]
R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner
Chuck Schuldiner, guitarist and vocalist for the pioneering death metal band Death, died on December 13th after a lengthy battle with cancer. As reported previously here, Schuldiner was diagnosed in 1999 with a rare form of brain tumor called pontine giloma. Operated on in January of 2000, Schuldiner appeared to be making progress in his recovery. However, the tumor returned in 2001, proving inoperable as it continued to grow. He was 34.
Death was formed by Schuldiner in 1983, and over the course of the band's existence, he remained the only permanent member. Known as the godfather of death metal and grindcore, many bands owe their inspiration and their paychecks to Schuldiner and his ground-breaking style.
The Charles Schuldiner Memorial Fund, originally started to help defray the costs of Schuldiner's medical bills, continues to accept donations.
Travel in peace, Chuck.
R.I.P. Peggy Lee
Music legend Peggy Lee, who, with her distinctive, smoky voice, turned such songs as "Fever" and "Is That All There Is?" into unforgettable musical masterpieces, died in mid-January in her Bel Air from a heart attack. She was 81. Over the course of a career that spanned 50 years, Lee applied her sultry voice to more than 600 songs, earning a place alongside such jazz vocal legends as Bessie Smith, Elle Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. "She was a perfectionist," said daughter Nicky Lee Foster. "She does not carry a tune," jazz critic Whitney Balliett once wrote, "she follows it." A diabetic, Lee had been long-troubled by health problems, including heart trouble. She is survived by her daughter, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
R.I.P. Waylon Jennings
Original country music outlaw Waylon Jennings passed away in early February from complications due to a lengthy battle with diabetes. He was 64. Best known for songs like "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," which he sang with Willie Nelson, and the theme song to the television show The Dukes of Hazzard, Jennings recorded 60 albums over the course of his 50 year career, and had 16 Number 1 singles on the country music charts. His career almost came to an untimely halt in 1959 when he was scheduled to fly on the plane that crashed and killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper (born Jiles Perry Richardson). Jennings, close friends with the Richardson, gave up his seat on the airplane so the Bopper, under the weather at the time, could fly rather than have to travel by bus. Known for an impressive drug habit that spanned almost half of his career in music, Jennings kicked the habit cold turkey in 1984 when he moved to Arizona. Plagued with diabetes-related health problems that affected his feet, Jennings had his left foot amputated in December. He is survived by his fourth wife of 33 years and their son, Shooter.
R.I.P. Mark Moreland
Rest in peace Wall of Voodoo guitarist and songwriter Mark Moreland, who died of kidney failure in a Paris hospital on March 13th. He was 44. A member of the Skulls, one of Los Angeles' first punk bands, Moreland founded Wall of Voodoo with Stan Ridgway in 1978, recording six albums, including the radio staple "Mexican Radio," in their 10 year career. Moreland had recently released Take It to the Spotlight, a solo album on Whore Records featuring contributions by John Parish (best known for his work with PJ Harvey).
R.I.P. Randy Castillo
Randy Castillo, former drummer for Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crüe, died on March 26th from cancer. Diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, Castillo checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in May 2000 to undergo aggressive radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Seemingly fully recovered by the summer of 2001, Catillo re-admitted himself to Cedars-Sinai 10 days before his death. Most recently, he had been working with Mike Inez, former Alice In Chains bassist.
R.I.P. Mati Klarwein
Rest in peace Spanish painter Mati Klarwein. Klarwein's surrealistic artwork graced the covers for Santana's Abraxas, and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and Live Evil albums, among many others. He was 70.
Dave Mustaine Disbands Megadeth Due to Injury
In a letter dated April 3rd to metal fans everywhere, Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine announced that he was disbanding his band of 20 years, and most likely guitar playing entirely, due to severe nerve damage to his left arm caused by an undisclosed injury he suffered in January while the band was on break.
"For the time being I have decided to exit Megadeth, and explore other areas of the music business where I might make a contribution without being able to play my instrument."
Mustaine is expected to go through at least a year of aggressive physical therapy, but at this time it is unclear if he'll even be able to play the guitar again once therapy is completed.
"My immediate goals now are to do what I can to make something good come out of this terrible situation. First and foremost, I want to use this opportunity to devote more time, energy and attention to my wife Pam and my two children, Justis and Electra. Pam has done a wonderful job carrying the load while I was a long-distance husband and father in the studio or criss-crossing the world on tour, but in terms of being a Gold or Platinum parent, I have a long way to go, and I'm eager to get started."
As a result of Mustaine's announcement, Megadeth has decided to formally disband. Earpollution would like to give our sincere condolences to Dave and everyone in the Megadeth family. Take care of yourself and get well, Dave.
Fear Factory Close Shop
After 12 years of fusing industrial strength electronics with their bleak interpretation of death metal, Fear Factory have decided to split after singer Burton C. Bell announced he was quitting the band, citing inter-personal problems, disappointing sales of the band's last album, Digitmortal, and his own tiring of playing mog stomp music as reasons for his departure. Rumor has it he's looking to form a more indie-rock oriented band. The remaining members of Fear Factory appear to be keeping busy as well. Bassist Christian Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera will be focusing on Kush, whose ranks include Deftones guitarist Stephen Carptener and Cypress Hill member B-Real. Guitarist Dino Cazaras will continue working with Brujeria, as well as Asesino, a project that includes Static-X member Tony Campos.
Pitchshifter Members Form New Band
Former Pitchshifter guitarist Matt Grundy and current Pitchshifter co-founder/bassist Mark Clayden announced recently that they were forming a new band called The Blueprint. A decidedly more indie focused band than the techno punk of Pitchshifter, The Blueprint have secured some live dates opening up for Sparta, the new project by former At the Drive-In members Tony Hajjar, Paul Hinojos, and Jim Ward.
In other Pitchshifter news, the band's debut album for Sanctuary Records is set for release on April 29 in the U.K., and May 7 in the U.S.
Jello Biafra Sues Dead Kennedys Over Misrepresentation
In the ongoing hate affair between Jello Biafra and his former Dead Kennedys bandmates, Biafra (born Eric Reed Boucher) filed suit in a California Superior Court recently, alleging that his former bandmates are using his name, picture, and identity to promote new live recordings and live performances (which feature Dr. Know's Brandon Cruz on vocal duties). Biafra, who claims that his former bandmates are using his name and likeness on flyers and other advertisements to promote Dead Kennedys' gigs, said, "I don't object to them playing cover versions of the songs. Anybody has a right to do that. But they've engaged in deliberate bait-and-switch tactics. [...] Their agent was very evasive about who was and who was not in the band." He is suing for $25,000 in punitive damages. "Don't get me wrong, I'm as proud as ever of the Dead Kennedys and grateful for how much we mean to people, but I'm totally embarrassed by what they're trying to do."
Fast Music Can Lead to Dangerous Driving
Topping the "No, You Must Be Kidding!" list this month is a report from New Scientist magazine about a test at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel which proves that people who listen to loud music are twice as likely to get involved in accidents than those who don't. "Drivers had more than twice as many accidents when they were listening to fast tempos as when they listened to slow or medium-paced numbers." The article further advised that drivers be aware of the impact of the angry, angry music they listen to, and instead choose slower tunes or turn down the damn volume.
What the report failed to take into account was the effect that forcing metal heads to replace Metallica's Ride the Lightning with Kenny G. as the music of choice for their morning commute would have on our collective consciousness. In fact, eP has discovered that certain key parts of the report were blacked out -- parts that eluded to the earth's orbit coming to a full stop and reversing direction should this switch in driving music take place. Some evilly twisted diabolic plot, no doubt! We advise you to turn up Ride the Lightning even louder for your daily commute, and completely block out any and all outside sounds, thus ensuring that the sinister people behind this "study" aren't afforded the chance to enslave humanity.
Barry White Music Aids Shark Sex
Coming in second on the list is news that Barry White was supposedly played to sharks at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, England, in the hopes that it would spark a bit of the ole "wink, wink, nudge, nudge." "We'll play lots of different types of music from Barry White to modern pop classics and note the reaction of the sharks to each," says curator Josie Sutherland. "We'll soon know if it does the trick because in the early stages of shark courtship the male chases the female at high speed and attempts to bite her back and pectoral fin."
No word yet on what effect playing Ride the Lightning might have on the sharks libidos.
Mudhoney to Return with New Album
Speaking of Barry White, sharks, and every good boy deserving fudge, Sub Pop Records announced in February that Mudhoney will be releasing a new record this fall. The album is the first since original bassist Matt Lukin decided to leave punk's most under appreciated band. Replacing him will be Guy Maddison, who has logged time with Lubricated Goat, and Bloodloss (which includes Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm).
You'll know more when we know more.
Sub City Records Breaks $100,000 In Charity Donations
Sub City Records, known for their passionate involvement in getting the word out and supporting righteous causes, announced in recently that over the course of the label's three years and 20 releases, the Hopeless Records imprint has raised over $111,000.00 for charity. With each album containing information on each charity, and with the five percent of the suggested retail price benefiting a cause of the bands' choosing, Sub City has donated to 20 organizations, including: Schools for Chiapas, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Women's Justice Center, Prison Radio, and 1-800-SUICIDE.
Big congratulations to Sub City! And thank you for your tireless support and work on raising awareness about these programs and institutions.
Quote of the Month
"I'd like to congratulate myself, and thank myself, and give myself a big pat on the back. Thank you, Dee Dee. You're wonderful." Dee Dee Ramone during the Ramones acceptance speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2002 induction ceremony.
Editor-In-Chief (or so they keep insisting)