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Death Don't Have No Mercy

"Time flies, death urges, knells call, Heaven invites, Hell threatens." -Edward Young
"Death has shaken out the sands of thy glass." -John Brainard

While most of us have been enjoying a long summer reprieve from the doldrums of work life, Death, apparently, did not receive his notice, and instead has been noticeably busy over these past few months while the rest of us vacationed. Some house calls seemed inevitable, others questionable, more than one was pitiable, but all were great influentials in their own right and so deserve praise for what they created in life, not how they found death.

Layne Staley, charismatic and enigmatic singer of Alice In Chains, was found dead in his Seattle apartment on April 19 from a drug overdose. Staley, who had long battled a well-documented addiction -- and whose addiction led to the demise of one of grunge's foremost bands -- had not been heard from by family or friends for several weeks. Police were called and when they went to the apartment to check on Staley's welfare he was found dead on his couch, surrounded by various drug paraphernalia. Apparently, Staley had been dead for several weeks, with the King County Coroner's report listing the date of death on or around April 5, which, we sadly note, was the eighth anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Staley was 34. Contributions can be made in Layne's name to: Eastside Recovery Center, 1412 140th Place NE, Bellevue, WA 98007, USA.

Douglas Glen Colvin, known to most as Dee Dee Ramone, was also found dead of a drug overdose in his Hollywood home on June 5. Bass player for punk icons the Ramones, Dee Dee left the band in 1989 to try his hand at rap, releasing just one album, Standing In the Spotlight, under the alias Dee Dee King. Even though he was never returned to the Ramones he continued to write songs for the band until they disbanded in 1996. Between sporadic touring as a solo artist with others Dee Dee worked on art, and at the time of his death had an exhibit on display at Los Angeles' Follin Gallery. He also had published two books, Chelsea Horror Hotel and Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones. Dee Dee's death came a mere four months after the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and two months after the one year anniversary of the death of Ramones' singer, Joey Ramone, who passed away in April of 2001 at the age of 49 from a long fight with lymphatic cancer. Dee Dee was also 49.

John Entwistle, quiet but firmly present bassist for The Who died in his sleep from a heart attack on June 27, on the eve of a sell out summer tour by the band. Entwistle, known affectionately as the Ox by friends and bandmates, was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room. Suffering from a heart condition for which he was taking prescribed medication, the Clark County coroner ruled that the primary cause of the heart attack was the "significant amount of cocaine" found in his body at the time of death. An artist as well, Entwistle was in Las Vegas to promote a showing of lithographs he had done. Deciding to soldier on with the tour in memory of their friend, the remaining original members of The Who, Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend (original drummer Keith Moon died of a drug overdose in 1978 at the age of 32), enlisted session bassist Pino Palladino to fill the Ox's mighty shoes. Entwistle was 57. Rest easy, Ox.

Legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown bassist passed away on July 2 in Indianapolis while on tour with his band. Brown, whose playing helped define the sound be-bop, was once married to Elle Fitzgerald, and played with (and counted as friends) greats like Dizzie Gillespie and Charlie Parker, appearing with the former in the 1946 film Jivin' In Be-Bop. Having played a round of golf earlier in the day, Brown returned to his room to take a nap and died in his sleep. He is survived by his wife, Cecilia, and son, Raymond Brown, Jr. Brown was 75.

Nellie Monk, wife of jazz pianist and composer Thelonius Monk, died June 25 in a Manhattan hospital from a cerebral hemorrhage. One of the genre's greatest love stories, she helped manage the jazz great's career by providing a quiet, grounded center to the eccentric, troubled genius of her husband. She was 80.

Otis Blackwell, credited with penning some of rock 'n' roll's greatest classics, including "Don't Be Cruel," "All Shook Up," "Return To Sender," and "Great Balls Of Fire," died of a heart attack on May 6 in Nashville. He was 70.

And finally, James Al Hendrix, father of guitar great Jimi Hendrix, died peacefully in bed at home on April 27 after a long battle with congestive heart failure. Raising his son as a single parent, Al is credited with buying his son Jimi his first electric guitar, and also turning the younger Hendrix onto the blues greats that would eventually influence so much of his sound. In 1993 Al filed suit in a Seattle district court against Alan Douglas and Leo Branton in an attempt to regain the rights to his son's music. Douglas, who claimed to be a friend of Jimi's, had been selling the rights to Hendrix's music for the past 20 years. The lawsuit was funded by Paul Allen (creator of The Experience Music Project) under an agreement that Al would only have to pay the money back (rumored to be $5 million) if he won the case -- which he did in 1995 to the tune of tens of millions in unpaid royalties, which he rightly deserved. Afterwards, Hendrix created Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. to oversee his son's legacy. Al Hendrix was 82.

Hendrix Voted Greatest Guitarist of All Time

Speaking of guitar greats who go by the name Hendrix, readers of a survey conducted by Total Guitar voted Jimi Hendrix as the greatest guitar player of all time. Like there was any doubt...? Here's the complete hit list, some of which I agree with (Hendrix), most of which I don't (Zakk Wylde over SRV? James Hetfield? C'mon...):

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Jimmy Page
3. Eric Clapton
4. Slash
5. Brian May
6. Joe Satriani
7. Eddie Van Halen
8. Dave Gilmour
9. Kirk Hammett
10. Steve Vai
11. Carlos Santana
12. James Hetfield
13. Tom Morello
14. Kurt Cobain
15. Mark Knopfler
16. Zakk Wylde
17. Gary Moore
18. Jeff Beck
19. Stevie Ray Vaughan
20. Angus Young

R.I.P. Godflesh

Shortly after we ran our feature on Godflesh back in April [Click here to read the interview], the band's leader and artistic genius, Justin Broadrick, released the following statement:

"Godflesh (1988-2002) -- Missions Is Terminated

"On April 10th 2002, I disbanded Godflesh. This was something I had painfully been pondering since G.C. Greens' departure from the band in October, 2001. Regrettably, it took until the day of leaving for a lengthy U.S. tour for the realization to finally take its toll on me.

"Unfortunately, the finality of the decision and the responsibilities of making the decision proved too much for me to bare, and I collapsed under the weight. I found that without G.C. Green, Godflesh is not Godflesh, and him leaving proved to be an omen for me. I also feel that everything we originally intended or even imagined with Godflesh we have done. My only regret has been the hurting of both remaining band members, Ted Parsons and Paul Raven, and disappointing those that believe in Godflesh worldwide. In the near future, my new rock project Jesu will surface. So this is by no means the end of my songwriting/guitar/vocalizing. Simply the end of a chapter.

"Endless gratitude to all those that have believed in and supported Godflesh throughout the 14-year history. You know who you are... Long live the new flesh.

"Justin K. Broadrick / May 2002."

G.C. Green was Godflesh's bass player and co-founder, who left the band last fall to return to school, being replaced by Paul Raven (Killing Joke, Prong). While we are deeply saddened to see the end of an era, we know Broadrick well enough to know that he is so consumed with making music of every color and shape, that it won't be long before the new flesh arises. Godflesh is dead -- long live the new flesh!

Widespread Panic Guitarist Succumbs to Terminal Cancer

We initially had intended to write our sympathies to Widespread Panic guitarist Michael Houser, who announced recently that he had been diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. Houser stopped touring with the band last month to be at home and, writing to the band's fans, said: "In the words of Lou Gehrig, 'Though some of you may have thought I have caught a bad break, I feel like the luckiest man in the world.'" However, before we were able to publish we learned that Houser passed away just yesterday (as of this writing, 11Aug02), and are deeply saddened by the news. This from the band's website:

"Michael Houser, January 6, 1962 - August 10, 2002

"In this very sad time, we encourage you to gather with your Panic families in your hometown and celebrate Michael Houser's life on Monday, August 12th. As a living memorial to Michael and his love of music, the family requests that contributions be made to The Michael Houser Music Fund. Mike, his wife Barbette, and his son Waker have all been deeply involved with Athens Academy and through this fund the school will be able to provide children with the opportunities to discover the richness and wonder of music that so enriched Michael's own life. Memorials may be sent to: The Michael Houser Music Fund; Athens Academy; PO Box 6548; Athens, GA 30604, USA.

"Our hearts are with you as we know that your thoughts and prayers are with us."

Houser, along with vocalist John Bell and bassist David Schools, founded the jam band in the early '80s at the University of Georgia. We would like to send our sincere condolences to Michael's family, friends, and bandmembers. Houser was 40. Travel in peace -- travelin' light.

Megadeth Members Seek Mustaine Replacement

When Megadeth founder and mastermind Dave Mustaine disbanded the band back in April due to a hand injury that left him unable to play guitar, he probably thought that would be that. Not so, apparently. Former members Dave Ellefson (bassist), Jimmy DeGrasso (drummer), and Al Pitrelli and Marty Friedman (guitarists), have decided to continue on with the band and are actively seeking a replacement singer. No word yet on how the always-nice and never-prone-to-anger-or-violence Mustaine (that's a joke, kids) has taken the news that his band is no longer his band. This isn't the first time Mustaine has had a band snatched out from under his feet. You might remember that he was in the original Metallica lineup, only to be kicked out for being too surly and too loaded -- even for the rest of the band! Of course, he didn't get kicked out of Megadeth. He simply buried it only to find grave robbers digging at the fresh ground.

Asian Dub Foundation Turn Down MBE

Pandit G. (John Pandit), singer for our favorite political dub band, Asian Dub Foundation, announced in June that he was refusing an MBE award for "services to the music community," saying, "I personally don't think it's appropriate. I've never supported the honors system. The MBE (Member of the British Empire) honors, created by Britain's King George the V in 1917 to honor the services of civilians and servicemen in support positions during World War I, are chosen by the Queen of England and awarded to people on "merit for exceptional achievement or service." Pandit is the chair Community Music, Ltd. (where the Asian Dub Foundation met), as well as ADFED, a part of Asian Dub Foundation dedicated educating and promoting music in low-income neighborhoods. Says Pandit, " If you want to acknowledge the work of these organizations, prioritize funding so they can grow and expand and do the work that they do creating new music, giving people the opportunities to make music, develop new musicians, and create pathways where they can go out and establish themselves in the music industry."

Mark Chapman Due for Parole

Mark Chapman, who gunned down John Lennon outside his New York apartment building in 1980, is up again for parole in October. As you might remember, Chapman was last up for parole back in late 2000 [Click here and here to read the related eP stories], where he claimed that the former Beatle "would probably want to see me released." Regardless of what love the spectre of Lennon might have for Chapman, it's pretty much guaranteed that he won't be on the streets anytime soon, if at all. "The fact that it was John Lennon eliminates any hope for even a slim chance for Chapman being released," said Robert Gangi, lawyer for the Correctional Association Of New York. Chapman is serving 20 years to life in Attica prison.

Know Your Enemy

Some quick facts taken from NOW: with Bill Moyers:

Approximate number of daily newspapers in North America: 1800
Approximate number of magazines in North America: 11,000
Approximate number of radio stations in North America: 11,000
Approximate number of television stations in North America: 2000
Approximate number of book publishers in North America: 3000
Number of companies owning a controlling interest in the media listed above in 1984: 50
Number of companies owning a controlling interest in the media listed above in 1987: 26
Number of companies owning a controlling interest in the media listed above in 1996: 10
Number of companies owning a controlling interest in the media listed above in 2002: 6

Read the full story: Massive Media: Facts and Figures

Quote of the Month

"Did he say 'I don't
Wanna walk around with you'
When Death came over?"

Haiku penned by Bob Lee for Dee Dee Ramone.

Photo of the Month

[ the tour that never was ]

-Craig Young
Editor-In-Chief (or so they keep insisting)

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