Archie "Aashid" Himons, an integral part of Nashville's non-country music scene for better than three decades, passed away on Saturday, March 19, 2011 after a brief illness. Himons was 68 years old at the time of his death. A musical innovator that fused traditional country blues with reggae and world music during the late 1970s, Aashid, as he is known to his many fans, is best known for his popular "blu-reggae" band Afrikan Dreamland, which put Himons' myriad of musical influences into play in creating an energetic and unique sound.
We're sad to report on the death of Mississippi bluesman Big Jack Johnson on Monday, March 14th, 2011 after a long battle with health issues. Johnson was 70 years old. We held back on publicizing the story until after we received verification; several Internet outlets were reporting on Johnson's death several days before it actually happened. Johnson was one of the last practitioners of a truly Delta-inspired style of the blues. Influenced by guitarists like B.B. King and Albert King, Johnson also found inspiration listening to country music via the Grand Ole Opry on WSM radio out of Nashville. Johnson was also an accomplished bass guitar and mandolin player.
Producer, record label owner, and musical pioneer Bobby Robinson passed away on Friday, January 7, 2011 after a lengthy illness; Robinson was 93 years old. Robinson is best-known to music fans as the visionary producer and label owner whose Fire, Fury, Enjoy, and Red Robin record labels produced a flurry of recordings during the 1950s and '60s that would shape and influence blues, R&B, early rock 'n' roll, and soul music for a generation to follow.
Saxophonist Clarence Clemons, known around the world to millions of Bruce Springsteen fans as "The Big Man" of E Street Band fame, passed away on Saturday, June 18, 2011 from complications of a stroke he had suffered earlier in the week. Clemons was 69 years old. While not a blues artist, per se, Clemons' influence on sax players in the blues and R&B worlds is undeniable. As a member of the E Street Band behind Springsteen, Clemons' horn was an integral part of Springsteen's music, adding a bit of soul and the grit of urban blues to the singer's street-smart lyrics. Clemons also enjoyed a lengthy solo career, issuing four albums and scoring a 1985 hit in his duet with Jackson Browne, "You're A Friend Of Mine."
Louisiana blues legend Coco Robicheaux, originator of the style known as "hoodoo blues," passed away on Friday night, November 25, 2011 at the age of 64 years. Robicheaux had collapsed at the Apple Barrel club in New Orleans, and was later pronounced dead upon arriving at the Tulane University Medical Center. Robicheaux was a mainstay of the New Orleans music scene since a teenager. Robicheaux was a familiar figure in the clubs of Frenchman Street in New Orleans, performing frequently and just hanging around when he wasn't onstage. Robicheaux appeared eight straight years at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and was also a regular performer since 1995 at the French Quarter Festival.
Word has reached us of the death of the last of the Mississippi Delta bluesmen, David "Honeyboy" Edwards. According to a front page post on his website, the beloved blues artist passed away quietly in his sleep in the early morning hours of Monday, August 29th, 2011. At 96 years old, Edwards was the last of the original Mississippi Delta bluesmen, and a direct link to fellow Delta legend Robert Johnson. As a youth, Edwards also traveled with, learned from, and performed alongside such giants as Charley Patton, Big Joe Williams, and Tommy Johnson.
Blurt magazine, Rolling Stone, and other publications are reporting on the death of Texas blues legend Doyle Bramhall. The veteran blues band leader, drummer, and songwriter passed away on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at his Alpine, Texas home, reportedly from heart failure after suffering a bout of pneumonia. Through the years, Bramhall performed with a number of illustrious musicians, from Marcia Ball and Lou Ann Barton to Lightnin' Hopkins, Chris Duarte and Jennifer Warnes, among others. An integral part of the thriving Austin, Texas blues scene for over 40 years, Doyle Bramhall was a talented musician and songwriter.
The Houston Chronicle newspaper is reporting that blues pianist Earl Gilliam passed away on Wednesday, October 20, 2011 from advanced lung disease. Gilliam was 81 years old. An integral part of the long-thriving Houston, Texas blues scene for almost 50 years, Gilliam was a self-taught pianist. Over the years, Gilliam would become known as Houston's premiere blues pianist, and he performed alongside such greats as Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert King, Albert Collins, and Joe "Guitar" Hughes, among many others. Gilliam also lead his own band, performing frequently in Houston clubs throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and he was still performing after suffering a collapsed lung in 2008.
Bluesman Eddie Kirkland was killed in an auto accident on Sunday morning, February 27, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Kirkland was 87 years old at the time of his death. During the 1960s, Kirkland was bandleader for a number of R&B stars of the era, including Little Richard, Otis Redding, Ruth Brown, and Ben E. King. While working as a sideman and bandleader, Kirkland also established a critically-acclaimed solo career. At the time of his death, Kirkland had continued to tour for eight to ten months each year, bringing his unique blend of blues, soul, and R&B to audiences across the country and worldwide.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper is reporting the death of beloved local bluesman Fred Sanders Jr, who passed away on Saturday, January 15, 2010 a week after suffering a stroke. Sanders had also been battling cancer for several years; he was 71 years old at the time of his death, but had continued performing and teaching guitar until he was hospitalized for the stroke. A talented instrumentalist that could perform in just about any style, Sanders was a big-hearted man who freely gave his time to mentor younger musicians in the ways of the blues.