JANUARY 2
Arthur “Sambo” Irby, 61

Drummer who is remembered most for being a member of the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band and for an amazing ability to imitate the sound of a harp with only his mouth
Celebration of Life Photo Gallery

Roe Erister “Rick” Rick Hall, 85
1.31.32–1.2.18
Alabama record producer who is considered the Father of Muscle Shoals Music and was the owner of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL; of cancer

JANUARY 4
Billy Corston, 65
7.30.52–1.4.18
Original bass player for Doug James and the Pocket and more recently, The Screamin’ End; of pancreatic cancer

JANUARY 8
Denise LaSalle, 78
7.16.39–1.8.18

Born Ora Denise Allen, this soul blues singer was inducted in the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011. She is most famous for the songs, Trapped By a Thing Called Love and Down Home Blues; from complications of surgery


Edwin Hawkins, 74
8.19.43–1.15.18

Grammy award winning singer who merged gospel and secular songs and was most famous for the hit, Oh Happy Day; of pancreatic cancer

JANUARY 20
Terry Evans, 80
8.14.37–1.20.18

Mississippi soul blues singer/guitarist who got his start in the church choir, but gravitated to the secular music of Elmore James, Little Walter, Albert King and B.B. King; released seven solo albums

JANUARY 22
Preston Shannon, 70

Singer, songwriter, guitarist who was considered a Memphis blues legend and known as "The King of Beale St."

JANUARY 26
Floyd Miles, 74

​4.13.43–1.25.18
American blues/R&B singer who mentored Duane and Gregg Allman in 1960s Daytona Beach, FL

JANUARY 29
Eddie Shaw, 80
3.20.37–1.29.18

Revered Chicago tenor sax player, who led his own band, Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang after four years in Howlin’ Wolf’s band; of natural causes 

Tribute to Eddie Shaw Photo Gallery

JANUARY 31
Del Delker, 93

10.21.24–1.31.18

Gospel singer with the Voice of Prophecy radio ministry beginning in 1947

FEBRUARY 1
Dennis Edwards, 74
2.3.43–2.1.18

Frontman for the R&B group, The Temptations; from complications from meningitis

FEBRUARY 8
Algia Mae Hinton, 88

8.29.29–2.8.18
One of the last surviving Piedmont style blues guitarists and vocalists; of natural causes

FEBRUARY 9
Sunshine "Sonny" Payne, 92
11.25.29–2.9.18

Host of the King Biscuit Radio Time on KFFA in Helena, AR, since its beginning in 1951

Craig MacGregor, 68
9.13.49–2.9.18

Longtime bass player for the blues/rock band Foghat; after a long battle with lung cancer

FEBRUARY 16
Little Sammy Davis, 89

11.28.28–2.16.18 
American blues singer-songwriter and harmonica player based in the New York Hudson Valley; born in Mississippi, he settled in Chicago by the late 1950s and played with Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed and Little Walter; in his later years, became a close musical associate of Levon Helm

FEBRUARY 28
James "Nick" Nixon, 76
4.9.41–2.28.18

An omnipresent, beloved figure in Nashville's blues and R&B scenes for 50 years who worked with everyone from legendary rock 'n' roll guitarist Scotty Moore to the gospel group the Fairfield Four; of pulmonary lung disease

MARCH 1
Jay  B. Ross, 76
aka Bernard Rosenblatt
2.12.42–3.1.

Much loved entertainment lawyer in Chicago whose clients included Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and James Brown; of a heart attack

MARCH 4
Herbert Wiley, 76
?.?.42–3.4.18

Oxford (MS) blues guitarist and master cobbler; of cancer

Russell Malcolm “Russ” Solomon, 92
9.22.25–3.4.18

Founder of Tower Records, who opened his first Tower Records with $5,000 in 1960 in what had been his father’s drugstore in Sacramento, CA; declared bankruptcy in 2004 and in 2006 was forced to liquidate and close; of an apparent heart attack

Siva Choy, 70
Singaporean blues musician and comedian; of a stroke


MARCH 22
Jason Buie, 47
7.13.70–3.22.18

Canadian guitarist based on Vancouver Island who had just won the Maple Blues Award for New Artist of the Year in January; no cause of death revealed

MARCH 31(?)
Shakey Jake

West Side Chicago blues singer not to be confused with harp player Shakey Jake Harris, who died in 1990

APRIL 10
Yvonne Staples, 80
10.23.37–4.10.18

A member of the legendary Staples Singers; after a short battle with cancer

APRIL 11
Mama Inez, 88
4.24.30–4.11.18

Inez died just short of her 89th birthday, which would have been April 24. She was the grandmother of the (Eddie) Taylor clan and the sister of Chicago guitarist Jimmy Burns

Michael “Sleepy” Riley, 59
9.30.59–4.11.18

Much loved bass player for Eddie Shaw and a cousin of Nick Charles, the late bass player for Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues; after a long illness (he suffered a stroke in 2017)

Celebration of Life Photo Gallery

APRIL 21
Deborah Coleman, 61
10.3.56–4.21.18

Guitarist, singer and songwriter who was nominated nine times for a W.C. Handy Blues Music Award; died from complications from bronchitis and pneumonia

APRIL 26
Charles Neville, 79
12.28.18–4.26.18

The “horn man” for the legendary Neville Brothers; of pancreatic cancer

APRIL 28
Art Shay, 96
3.31.22–4.28.18

Photographer who photographed many of Chicago’s blues legends, among many other subjects


MAY 1
Jab’o Starks, 79
10.26.1938 –5.1.2018

Drummer with the James Brown Band; from a bone marrow disorder and cancer
 






 

​​​​MAY 3
Lenin “Doc” Pellegrino
8.27.25–5.3.18

The man who brought Chicago Kingston Mines 50 years ago on Lincoln Ave. After the roof caved in, the joint moved onto Halsted, where it has been offering blues seven nights a week ever since

MAY 22
Julius Holmes
Dr. J of Dr. J’s Lounge, a West Side Chicago nightclub


JUNE 1
Eddy Clearwater, 83
aka Edward Harrington
1.10.35–6.1.18

Mississippi-born, left-handed Chicago guitarist who played West Side Chicago blues, recorded 17 albums and billed himself “The Chief”; of heart failure

JUNE 3
Clarence Fountain, 88
11.28.29–6.3.18

Founding member and longtime leader of the Blind Boys of Alabama; of complications from diabetes

JUNE 8
Danny Kirwan, 68

5.13.50–6.8.18 
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and vocalist who played on several recordings, including Blues Jam at Chess

JUNE 11
​Nate Appelwhite, 86
10.30.36–6.11.18

Most famous as the drummer for Magic Slim and the Teardrops

JUNE 13
Dominic Joseph “D.J.” Fontana, 87
3.15.31–6.13.18

Rockabilly icon best known as the drummer for Elvis Presley

JUNE 15
Matt “Guitar” Murphy, 88
12.29.29–6.15.18

Casual blues fans know him as one of the members of the Blues Brothers Band, but the rest of us know he had a better resume, playing with musicians such as Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James and Memphis Slim. Cause of death was a heart attack, but he suffered a stroke in 2002 that forced him into semi-retirement.

JUNE 20
Lil’ Howlin’ Wolf, 87
aka Jessie Sanders
7.26.30–6.20.18

He was mentored by Howlin’ Wolf and took the name Lil’ Howlin’ Wolf in 1976 when Wolf died as a tribute to his mentor and father figure. His career lasted more than 70 years, playing with Jimmy Reed, Hound Dog Taylor, Magic Sam and other legendary Chicago musicians.

JUNE 25
Thomas J. Radai, 73
8.7.44–6.25.18

He founded the Blues Management Group in 1966, and became America’s only multiple of the W.C. Handy Award winner. He represented blues legends that included Jimmy Rogers, Phillip Walker, William Clarke, Otis Spann and Sam Lay. He also was the founder of the Wisconsin Blues Society.

AUGUST 15
Robert “Dancin'” Perkins, 86
?–8.15.18

Bass player who was a Maxwell St. regular and father of local Chicago drummer Chris Alexander; of natural causes

AUGUST 16
Aretha Franklin, 76
3.25.42–8.16.18

What more needs to be said about the undisputed Queen of Soul, who was a singer, songwriter, civil rights activist, actress and pianist?

AUGUST 20
Eddie “Chank” Willis, 82
6.3.36–8.20.18

The original Motown Funk Brother, nicknamed  Chank because of his muted, propulsive guitar style; played on hits such as Stevie Wonder’s I Was Made to Love Her and The Marvelettes’ Please Mr. Postman.

AUGUST 22
Lazy Lester, 85
6.20.33–8.22.18

Widely considered the last surviving member of the first generation of swamp blues players that included Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim and Lonesome Sundown; of stomach cancer

SEPTEMBER 16
Big Jay McNeely, 91
4.29.27–9.16.18

Cecil "Big Jay" McNeely was a force of nature on the tenor sax; of advanced prostate cancer

Clarence Ludd, 85
12.7.32–9.16.18

Husband of Artis Ludd and co-owner of historic South Side clubs in Chicago that included Artis' Lounge, the High Chapparal and the Godfather Lounge

SEPTEMBER 29
Otis Rush, 84
4.29.35–9.29.18

One of the most influential of the great Chicago blues guitarists who was a key architect of Chicago’s West Side sound; was #53 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists; from complications related to a stroke suffered in 2003

OCTOBER 24
Tony Joe White, 75
7.23.43–10.24.18

Gave us the classic 1969 hit, Polk Salad Annie, plus Rainy Night in Georgia, and had just released a blues CD in late September called Bad Mouthin' before he died; of natural causes

Melvin Ragin, 67
aka Wah Wah Watson
12.8.50–10.24.18

A member of the Motown house band, The Funk Brothers, who played on famous tunes such as Papa Was a Rolling Stone by the Temptations and Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On

OCTOBER 28
John. T. Benson III, 90
?.?.27–10.28.18

Gospel music executive who was president of the Gospel Music Association from 1978–1980; also former president of the John T. Benson Publishing Co., which was founded in 1902 by his grandfather and is the oldest permanent music business operation in Nashville

NOVEMBER 20
Eddie C. Campbell, 79
5.6.39–11.20.18

Revered West Side Chicago guitarist, who performed with Luther Allison, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Koko Taylor, and who was a bandleader for Jimmy Reed; from complications from the result of a stroke and heart attack suffered in 2013

DECEMBER 1
Jody Leon Williams, 83
2.35.18–12.1.18

A Blues Hall of Fame member who served as Chess Records’ house guitarist for years; played on seminal recordings that include Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love, Howlin’ Wolf’s Evil and Forty Four, and Sonny Boy Williamson’s Don’t Start Me Talking; of cancer

Calvin Newborn, 85
4.27.33–12.1.18

Memphis guitar genius who gave guitar lessons to Howlin’ Wolf, played on B.B. King’s first record, was a Sun session musician and a member of the Delta Cats with Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston when they recorded Rocket 88, considered by many historians to be the first rock ‘n’ roll record; of respiratory failure

DECEMBER 17
Nancy Wilson, 81
2.20.37–12.17.18

Of her many titles, this legendary singer, who got her start from Cannonball Adderley, preferred “song stylist”; she recorded more than 70 albums and won three Grammy Awards; after a long battle with kidney cancer

DECEMBER 21
Al Miller
8.29.45–12.21.18

Local Chicago harp player who recorded two CDs–In Between Time, with John Primer, Billy Flynn and Dave Specter, and Wild Cards, with Willie Kent, Dave Specter, Tad Robinson and Steve Freund

PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:
Eddy Clearwater, Otis Rush, Eddie C. Campbell,
​Eddie Shaw and Lazy Lester © Chicago Blues News

Thanks
​for the memories

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Copyright © Chicago Blues News. All rights reserved.

Remembering members of the blues–and borderline blues–communities
we lost in 2018