Without question 2016 was one of the most devastating years in the music, radio and entertainment industry with losses. Here is a list of those we lost in the music and radio industry. Hit the next button below for the next segment.
1/11/16 – David Bowie
Indescribable Music Legend
I’m barely over the death of Natalie Cole and was thinking about going to her services today and now I learn that one of my absolute favorite musicians has also passed, the legendary icon David Bowie. Perhaps it really is true that stars die in threes. Ironically, he just released a new album a few days ago which I am sure will explode on the charts now. Perhaps he, like Natalie, were at their best doing what they loved to do until the end.
I was a very young kid when David Bowie hit the scene in the early 70s but I do remember him. He was an amazing artist who dared to color outside the lines and he refused to be bored. Yesterday, at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer, he met his end. I regret that I never met him but I was in the same room with him and Iman once at an awards after party. At times like these I realize it’s petty to be concerned about what your black guests would think or that you are bothering someone by telling them that you love their music and asking for a picture as I felt that night when I blew off a chance to meet him. Now the opportunity is gone for good. Lesson learned… just push your opinionated and predictable black friends out-of-the-way (or just get rid of them) go around the block to cross the street (a different route for a change), ask and take the damn picture with the Rock Star.
Bowie was always a
step staircase ahead of his predictable rock counterparts making him indescribable yet still incredibly successful, intriguing and a revolutionary as a musician. He must have driven his label insane by doing things in the early 70s like announcing he or and/his alter ego Ziggy Stardust, by today’s terms, a drag queen, was gay. In the early 70s that was enough to destroy a career but Bowie was always ahead of his time and outrageously bold. He was the first “New Wave” artist in the 70s before “New Wave” had a genre in the early 80s. He pushed the envelope by being a singer and combining it with being a performance artist by wearing space costumes or makeup and wigs creating an androgynous persona that others replicated but were unable to duplicate. To say that he was in a class by himself is an understatement.
Bowie’s career started in the music industry with “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” in 1972 but he had been performing and had a couple of other releases as early as 1968. His alter ego “Ziggy Stardust” was a huge success. He enjoyed #1 crossover success, including an appearance on Soul Train with his huge multi-genre smash “Fame” which he wrote with the late John Lennon from the album Young Americans. The late Luther Vandross credited Bowie with giving him his first big break singing background on the album’s title song.
Bowie continued to break the music barriers by even recording a Christmas song with Bing Crosby in the late 70s. Other memorable hits include: “Golden Years,” “Let’s Dance,” “Under Pressure” and more. Bowie married international model Iman in 1992, they have a daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones who was born 15th August 2000. The family is requesting privacy at this time of grieving.
To that end, a quote: “Don’t feel bad for people who Die after LIVING but feel sorry for people who are LIVING like they’re dead…. Live a great legacy.” By me.
My Favorite song incredible arrangement and production. “Fame” Multi-Genre #1 smash. On Soul Train.
1/17/16 – Kris Kelley
Industry vet LaVonne Battle aka “Kris Kelley” was found dead last night in an apartment in Philadelphia. She was 47, Industry sources state few people had talked to her for a while and calls were not returned from friends and family. A friend went to do a welfare check and found the former PD dead. She had previously spent several years working for iHeartmedia (then Clear Channel) in various capacities, but was most well known for her work at WJLB in Detroit. Later she was moved to Chicago including a stint at WVAZ as midday host and was eventually promoted to PD at WGCI Chicago. The first appointment didn’t work out and she was re-assigned, a couple of years later she was promoted again to PD at WGCI and departed from the station two years ago. Not much is known at this time as her death is pending an investigation. source
2/3/16 – Big Kap
RFFocus is sad to announce the death of legendary hip hop DJ Big Kap, whose real name is Keith Carter. Kap was found dead at the age of 45 in New York. As of now, no cause of death has been reported. He is mostly known for working with the Notorious BIG but he has worked with several hip-hop artist throughout his career and lifetime. Big Kap was still rockin’ shows and his last performance was in November. He will definitely be missed by those in the hip hop community and beyond. We send our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.
2/4/16 – Maurice White
We’re sorry to report that lead singer and founder of the legendary group Earth Wind & Fire, Maurice White has died. He passed in his sleep this morning and has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for many years. He was 74. For most of the past 20 years the group continued to tour and perform with Phillip Bailey singing White’s parts. Read more about White’s amazing career here. We will keep you posted on arrangements.
2/7/16 – Reggie Reg
Reggie Calhoun, aka “Reggie Reg,” has died in his hometown of Baltimore, MD. The former 92Q (WERQ) jock died of congestive heart failure Saturday at St. Agnes Hospital according to his sister Betty Covington in a quote to The Baltimore Sun. She stated he had been in declining health for a while. “He had been having trouble walking, but we just couldn’t stop him. At a musical event, he would sit in a chair these days. He died doing what he loved,” she stated. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said in a statement. “I was terribly saddened to hear of Reggie’s passing. He was one of the best DJs of my generation, with a personality bigger than life. He will definitely be missed.” Former Baltimore jock Frank Ski stated: “Reggie had Presence! When he walked in, everyone knew it. He treated everyone the same. Never had haters! Most down to earth party rocker I know. Would get on the mic or turn tables at any party. Whether getting paid or not.” Reggie’s family needs help with funeral arrangements here
2/15/16 – RJ da Bad Boy
Roosevelt Polk aka “RJ da Bad Boy’ has died. He passed last Wednesday. He worked for 102.3 JAMZ (KBCE) and MIX 93.9 (KMXH) in Alexandria, LA. JWPB Broadcasting stated: “We sincerely regret the loss of Roosevelt Polk “RJ da Bad Boy.” The dedication and joy that was given to the staff and listeners will be missed. He was a true radio professional and unique air-personality of many years. We ask for prayers for his friends and family.” No word on arrangements at press time.
2/15/16 – Denise “Vanity” Mathews
The industry and fans remember the stunning Denise “Vanity” Mathews who has died following years of ailments that she attributed to her drug use during her heyday in the 80s as a member of Vanity 6. She was 57. Denise admitted to unimaginable abuse that she suffered as a child growing up in Niagara Falls, Ontario from her father that later haunted her during her success as an international singer. After being Prince’s protegé and girlfriend she left the group Vanity 6 to be a solo act on Motown records with minimal success. She wrote a book about her life “Blame it on Vanity” and released it in 2012 and decided to sell it herself instead of using a major publisher and the book was not a success as she had been out of the industry at least two decades at that point. I was supposed to do a podcast with her on her book but we never locked in a time or date.
Denise was forced to set up a go fund me campaign to raise money for her continued ailing health which RFFocus posted this past August. It’s most unfortunate that she will be mourned by a ton of other celebrities but she was alone and felt the need to ask fans to help her raise $7000 of a proposed $50,000 for medical expenses. She gave her life to God after years of drug abuse, tumultuous relationships and heartache and she consistently ministered in Los Angeles over the past 20 years. She stated getting saved, saved her life. She will forever be immortalized as a lead in the Motown cult film classic “The Last Dragon.”
Her last post updating her health was in August 2015.
“My Nephrologist told me Friday afternoon that i did not have “Pancreatitis” and that is good news however the bad news is they say i have “Sclerosis Encapsulating Peritonitis” I thought the first diagnosis was weird because i was never a drinker nor have i ever been drunk in my whole life, that was not my drug of choice “back in the day. I was on a Peritoneal type of dialysis for six years and we know that whatever we do unto our body feeding it chemically, dialysis medicines, unless it is perfectly organic can lead to much suffering in its end. I went into the emergency twice this week, boy it is not fun suffering in this body of weak flesh… but Jesus is straightening out all my crooked places in my heart as i go thru this time of pain….i won’t complain! I cried aloud begging Jesus to help me thru this pain and three nurses rushed to my door … only to tell me loudly “BE Quiet” I had been waiting in excruciating pain for at least an hour and 45 minutes begging for help!…Then they slammed my door and left me. “Blessed are those that are persecuted for righteousness sake..It was the name of Jesus that some do hate…but forgive them they know not what they do, i pray them Jesus before it is too late amen.
So pray for me now for i am believing in complete healing of this body longing to be healed made whole my heart..I have my vision, i keep it close. I repent daily my sins, my faults and my shortcomings. He has brought me out of so many fires, oh so many, 23 years alive after the doctors pronounced i would be dead way back then 1992…I lift my head up high to the sky and do thank my Jesus that He has kept me thus far and even as much as this body would love to be with Him in Heaven right this minute… for He is my true love and King over my life…even as the Apostle Paul yearned also to be with Him in the Heavenly’s ….As well David the King..we have our duty and i will serve my generation…i am happy to live and declare my testimonies with joy unspeakable believing for Him to pull me thru. I will endure until He comes for my soul. ..Tho my testimonies, some hard and some dangerously painful are all unto the glory of the Lord. i am learning continuous obedience always hoping for change to become who He is… thru all my sufferings …And my King has made my heart soft…My very first prayer on my deathbed to Jesus was” Do whatever it takes to save me, just don’t let me die…Whatever it takes, make my heart whole…He is busily working on me…If you are suffering thru something right now i lift you to Jesus ..may He preserve you and keep you unto His heavenly kingdom and may you endure thru your change in Him…He knows what it takes to break us, make us deliver us into His Holy hands amen…Make our hearts Whole amen…!nluvdenise”
2/16/16 – Jackie Galloway
We’re sad to report that industry vet Jackie Galloway has died after a long illness this week. She worked at WHRK and WDIA in Memphis, TN and she also worked at the former MCA Records as the Memphis rep in the mid to late 90s. We will keep you posted on arrangements.
2/23/16 – Lance LT Thomas
RFFocus sends condolences to the family of Lance (LT) Thomas. He lost his battle with cancer this week. Thomas was one of the original staffers at KBXX in Houston, TX in 91 before Clear Channel (iHeartMedia) then Radio One owned it. He started as a promotions person and moved on air to swing shifts, then got a full time slot at night. Then he moved to KBLZ in Tyler to be MD/Nights or Afternoons. He was also PD for a bit. He moved to sales which was more lucrative than being on the air, then he eventually headed out of the radio station climate when he got married. RIP Lance.
2/26/16 – Tony Burton
One of my favorite lines from a the classic “Rocky” series is “Throw in the damn towel.” That line was delivered by actor Tony Burton and has been used in several memes.
According to TMZ, “Rocky” actor Tony Burton has died. There is no official cause of death, but apparently he had been ill for some time. Burton had appeared in the first 6 “Rocky” films, and would have appeared in “Creed” if his health was up to par.
Burton played the character “Duke” who was boxer Apollo Creed’s trainer.
3/4/16 – Gavin Christopher
RFFocus regrets to inform you that Singer Gavin Christopher has passed. Truly one of the best singers to ever grace the stage, Christopher had been dealing with illness for quite some time. Some of his best songs are (my favorite) “You Are Who You Love,” (video below) Fools Paradise & Once You Get Started w/ Rufus & Chaka Khan, Stars in Your Eyes with Herbie Hancock (per his friends on his FaceBook page). He was asking for donations last year after health and financial issues left him homeless in 2015. (see video). We will keep you posted on services.
March 5, 2016 – Robyn Harvey
RFFocus is sorry to report that industry vet Robyn Harvey (Jasmine James) has died after a long battle with cancer. D Cherie told RFFocus “I met Robyn Jasmine James when she worked for at WQMG in Greensboro. Jasmine was enrolled in college at UNCG and doing one of the baddest morning shows! A true inspiration to many of us in the area pursuing radio. Jasmine’s PD was Sam Weaver. Other announcers during that time were Skip Dillard and Mic Fox. We were students at NC A&T’s WNAA-FM, but also trying to get hands-on commercial experience at WQMG. As a female announcer, I was always proud of the way Jasmine James hit the road from Mt Olive, NC and came to Greensboro for college and shut it down at WQMG-FM as a student with her co-host BJ Murphy.” #CancerSucks
Skip Dillard said: “Super talented and loving person. She loved getting out in the streets and was as entertaining one on one as she was on air. One of her passions was teaching so she was great with youth. Her smile and sense of humor always stayed with you after she was gone.”
Brian Wallace stated: “I JUST left a funeral and find out about Robyn Harvey (Jasmine James) passing this morning… Jas had soooooo much energy and a love for life (and radio) when I was her “coach” in Greensboro, NC. My sympathy to her family, friends and our team at WQMG. This one stings hard.#TomorrowIsNotPromised“
March 23, 2016 – Phife Dawg
Vet hip hop group Tribe Called Quest member and co-founder Malik Taylor aka Phife Dawg has died. The 45-year-old rapper had been suffering from various health ailments over recent years including Type 1 Diabetes and kidney transplant surgery. Taylor co founded the group in 1985 with Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammed. The group last performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this past November. We’ll keep you posted on services.
4/11/16 Doug Banks
Rick Party stated the following as a tribute to Doug:
“Give people their flowers while they’re still alive.
Doug Banks (RIP) was truly one absolute best ever!
I can’t even fathom the thought that one of my mentors and great friends, Doug Banks (Red Shorts), has passed on.
I had the pleasure of first meeting Doug over 30 years ago before I started radio, I was just a teenager riding my bicycle as a messenger in the city of Chicago. I was riding along Chicago Avenue and State St and I saw Doug Banks, Shirley Strawberry and Jerry “The Curlman” Cook grabbing a bite to eat for lunch. I said, “hey your Doug Banks,” and he said yes what’s your name? I introduced myself and told him that I would love to be a radio personality one day. My mom immediately enrolled me into Columbia School of Broadcasting and I became a radio professional.
I left Chicago to pursue my dream for a few years, and was hired to work at the #1 radio station in my home town WGCI alongside; Tom Joyner, Shannon Dell and Doug Banks.
Doug & I became good friends, in fact, I was with him when he met Wendy, Married her and had two amazing daughters.
As fate would have it, Doug and I became neighbors here in Sunny Isles Beach in Miami 5 minutes away from Tom Joyner.
Doug was diagnosed with diabetes in the 80s, and when I saw Doug a few months ago in the neighborhood on his way to CVS he didn’t look so well as we chatted about catching up for lunch. Shortly thereafter, I called Wendy, though they were not together at this time, but I knew they were still good friends, and she said that “Doug is just going through complications of diabetes, but thanks for checking on him.”
Shortly thereafter, Doug’s sickness got the best of him and 2015, so he took some time off, but he returned to radio in early 2016.
Sadly, This morning, our Good friend & Former Agent, Brad Ginsburg, reached out to me and told me that our good friend, Doug Banks, is finally at peace.
He will be greatly missed!
I love you and will miss you brother.”
April 21, 2016 – Prince
I know this is shocking but Prince has died. The legendary musician had a recent medical emergency and had to have his private plane land for medical care a few days ago but he appeared on stage for a few minutes to let fans know he was OK. He was last reported battling the flu.
He was found dead in his Paisley Park compound in Minneapolis. Prince recently also expressed his deep grief for Denise “Vanity” Mathews a former protege and lead singer of Vanity 6 who also died earlier this year.
It’s really hard to believe that there have been so many deaths of music legends this year.
May 3, 2016 – Afeni Shakur
Tupac once said, “Ain’t a woman alive that could take my mama’s place” in his classic song “Dear Mama,” which was dedicated to his mom, Afeni Shakur. RFFocus is sad to announce that Afeni Shakur has died at the age of 69 years old. As mother’s day soon approaches, I’m sure most of us can relate to Tupac’s words as to how he felt about his mom.
Marin County deputies responded to Shakur’s home in Sausalito, Calif., Monday night after she suffered a possible cardiac arrest, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday morning. She was taken to a local hospital and died just before 10:30 p.m.
Shakur, born Alice Faye Williams, changed her name when she moved to New York City and joined the Black Panther movement. She was also an American music businesswoman, philanthropist, political activist and well-known Black Panther. She was so instrumental in keeping the legacy of her son shining in a positive light. She created a record label named Amaru Records to release Tupac’s unreleased recordings after winning a court battle with Death Row Records.
In addition to loving her son immensely, Afeni Shakur made guest appearances, lectured, and more, traveling the US. On February 6, 2007, she gave the Keynote Address for Vanderbilt’s Commemoration for Black History Month.
RFFocus would like to send our condolences to her family, friends, and loved ones. She will be missed.
6/3/16 – Muhammad Ali
Ali was “The Greatest” in and out of the ring. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has died. He was admitted into a Phoenix, AZ hospital with respiratory problems this week and his family was warned he was close to death. He had Parkinson’s Disease since 1984. He has been hospitalized several times over the last couple of years. KUDOS to Ali for standing up for his race, something that you would rarely if ever see from a black celebrity today. He was taking a huge gamble back then (see video) but he cared about is people more than he did himself. Labeled: ICON[yasr_overall_rating size=”medium”]
Muhammad Ali born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American former professional boxer, generally considered among the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport. A controversial and polarizing figure during his early career, Ali is now remembered for the skills he displayed in the ring plus the values he exemplified outside of it: religious freedom, racial justice and the triumph of principle over expedience. He is one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years, crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC. He also wrote several best-selling books about his career, including The Greatest: My Own Story and The Soul of a Butterfly.
Ali, originally known as Cassius Clay, began training at 12 years old and at the age of 22 won the world heavyweight championship in 1964 from Sonny Liston in a stunning upset. Shortly after that bout, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and 30 years later began adhering to Sufism.
In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. He did not fight again for nearly four years—losing a time of peak performance in an athlete’s career. Ali’s appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where in 1971 his conviction was overturned. Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counter-culture generation.
Ali remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978. Between February 25, 1964 and September 19, 1964 Muhammad Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion.
Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight, three with rival Joe Frazier, and one with George Foreman, in which he regained titles he had been stripped of seven years earlier.
At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali, inspired by professional wrestler “Gorgeous” George Wagner, thrived in—and indeed craved—the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish. He controlled most press conferences and interviews, and spoke freely about issues unrelated to boxing. Ali transformed the role and image of the African American athlete in America by his embrace of racial pride and his willingness to antagonize the white establishment in doing so. In the words of writer Joyce Carol Oates, he was one of the few athletes in any sport to “define the terms of his public reputation.”
6/6/16 – Kimbo Slice
Kevin Ferguson aka “Kimbo Slice,” 43, the Miami street fighter who gained famed after desperate circumstances has died. There is speculation that he had a heart attack. Slice rose to fame from the streets of Miami as a bodyguard working in the strip club and porn industry after he lost his home when a hurricane hit Miami. He was homeless and lived in his car. He climbed his way to the top under those dire circumstances, late in the game according to fight industry pros, but a success nonetheless. He became a star via the social networks and enjoyed great success and notoriety when his street fights were taped and placed on the social nets. No word on services.
7/5/16 – Mz Katt
Radio jock Katrina Holman aka “Mz Katt” died this past Friday from an unknown ailment. She told family she was not feeling well and was taken to the hospital where her health continued to decline rapidly and she passed. She was from Birmingham, AL and well loved by the community that she served on 95.7 Jamz (WBHJ).
Mz. Katt, the Dirty South Diva was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She graduated from Ramsay High School and later attended the University of Montevallo before transferring to the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!).
Her first break in the radio business came in 2000 at WBHJ 95.7 JAMZ after landing an internship with Cox Radio. Shortly after, she was hired as an on-air personality. Through her work with Summit Media, Katt has worked all around the southeast welcoming us to the Kitty City on the airwaves and stages all over!
Mz. Katt always had a passion for connecting to listeners, supporting their endeavors, and hosting various events, talent shows, church functions, school activities, neighborhood rallies and more. Katt loved Birmingham and the talent that it possesses in its artists. She had an even bigger space in her heart for supporting and highlighting the talents of independent artists from across the state and spent her Sunday nights doing that on the airwaves with her show, Alabama Now. Alabama is a music platform that features Alabama artists and provides helpful information for new artists.
Her smile, positive attitude, and sultry Southern voice have left a lasting impression on everyone that she encountered. That along with her motto, “Don’t talk about it, be about it” will remind all of us to get up, get out and get active as we work towards making their dreams a reality. Mz. Katt was a part of building an organization called G.L.O.W. (Girls Living On Will-Power) to support young women and encourage them to make positive choices in appearance, morality, and academic achievement. Her acts of kindness and service will be remembered for years to come.
7/9/16 – Vaughn Harper
RFFocus is sorry to report that industry vet and radio legend Vaughn Harper has died. He had been struggling with health issues over the last few years and was recently honored by people in the industry by his former station WBLS this past year. We will keep you posted on services.
8/16/16 – DJ Official
Christian rapper Lecrae paid tribute to DJ Official via Twitter saying “I know you deejaying on the other side. See you soon.” He continued, typing, “We talked everyday for the last 4 years. The squad won’t be the same. I know you’re glad to be with Jesus.” DJ Official had a rare form of cancer that made his lungs only operate at 13% capacity. He had a double lung transplant that left him in critical condition at which point he passed.
9/19/16 Trisco (Force MDs
Another member of the 80s hit group Force MDs has passed leaving two original members. TCD (center) died of ALS, Mercury (far right) died of a fatal heart attack, the group’s DJ and another member who left after the first album Dr. Rock passed and now Trisco (2nd from left and far right in lower picture) has lost his battle with stage 4 cancer. The group’s biggest hit 1985’s Tender Love, written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis catapulted them into superstardom and top 10 status on the pop charts but the group had major problems internally ranging from drugs to prison sentences.
9/21/16 – Shawty Lo
The hip hop community has lost Shawty Lo after a car crash early this morning. The 40-year-old died after his 2016 Audi crashed into two trees ejecting him from the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other passengers were had nonlife-threatening injuries. Lo was best known for the singles “Dey Know” and “Laffy Taffy” as a member of the Atlanta-based group D4L. Lo was involved in a controversy over a reality show a few years ago “All My Babies’ Mamas” in which he was trying to balance the mothers of his 10 children (at the time) which never aired because of a backlash members of the black community who thought the show was too stereotypical. We will keep you posted on arrangements.
9/27/16 – Kashif
Kashif Saleem, better known simply as Kashif was found dead yesterday by a neighbor in his apartment. He lived alone and authorities state he died of natural causes and may have been dead since Sunday reports eurweb. He was 56. Eurweb’s Lee Bailey stated “Just recently we partnered with him for his 3rd annual “Kashif and Friends” show in Hollywood in June of this year” Kashif was working on new music as well as a documentary about the music industry. We will keep you posted on arrangements.
10/5/16 – Rod Temperton
RFFocus is sad to report British songwriter Rod Temperton has died after a battle with cancer. Jon Platt, Chairman & CEO of Warner/Chappell, announced the news in a statement earlier today. Temperton was 66 years old.
“[Rod Temperton’s] family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times,” Platt also wrote in the statement.
Referred to as “The Invisible Man,” without Platt the world wouldn’t have a number of great songs. Temperton got his start in music through the funk group Heatwave, where he penned two of the band’s most well known songs to date, “Boogie Nights” and “Always & Forever.”
Rod was an English songwriter, record producer, and musician from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England. He initially made his mark as the keyboardist and main songwriter for the R&B funk/disco band Heatwave before writing several internationally known songs performed by Michael Jackson, including mega-hit “Thriller” as well as “Off the Wall”, “Rock with You,” and numerous others.
We send our condolences to Rod’s family, friends, and fans.
10/23/16 – Herb Kent
RFFocus is sad to report that industry icon Herbert Robert Kent aka “Herb Kent” has died. He passed this weekend and had just celebrated his 88th birthday. He worked in the Chicago market for almost 70 years. “He did what he loved until the very end” stated Interscope’s Caryn Lee who is based in Chicago. Kent last worked at WVAZ in Chicago.
WVAZ PD Derrick Brown told the Chicago Tribune: “Herb was our radio superhero. While I’m incredibly sad, I hold so much joy remembering the fun times we’ve had with him and the smiles he brought to our faces. Herb will hold an eternal place in our hearts.”
11/18/16 – Sharon Jones
Sharon Jones, a longtime soul vocalist with her backup band the Dap-Kings died today at 60. She had been diagnosed with stage two pancreatic cancer in 2013, the cancer went into remission after treatment then returned affecting several organs in her body in 2015. Even though she had cancer she proclaimed “I have cancer, cancer don’t have me” as she continued to perform with fire and energy. Ironicall, there is a new documentary “Miss Sharon Jones” where she candidly describes her medical struggles.
Jones could not secure a label deal for several decades but continued her lifelong dream of being a singer by singing backup and at weddings. She then retired from the music industry for a few years and returned in 2002 with her backup band The Dap-Kings to release an independent project “Dap Dipping.” Jones was well loved and a favorite on many music circuits including SXSW. No word on services as of yet.
11/26/16 – Colonel Abrams
While scrolling through FaceBook with everyone sharing pictures of their fried turkeys and sweet potato pies, I saw a FB Live post from one of my Facebook Friends Caryn Lee (from Interscope) that really caught my attention. She asked that people remember those who are alone for Thanksgiving and may need to hear from someone. As I took time out to do exactly that on Thanksgiving day, she was right. You never know what people are going through or if you will ever see them again. I will extend her wishes and ask RFFocus readers to do the same, reach out to an old industry friend that you have not talked to in a while and say hello. It might mean the world to them.
RFFocus is sad to report the death of music’s Colonel Abrams. The singer best known for his smash singles “Trapped” and “Not Gonna Let” succumbed to various ailments on Thanksgiving night. He was 67. He had been very ill and struggling to the point of homelessness financially for quite some time. KUDOS to WBLS for holding a fundraiser in his name this past January. N0 details on services yet.
We have heard these stories way too many times in the urban radio and music industry. It is my goal in 2017 to find a way to use RFFocus to teach today’s singers and industry people about finance. If you have any suggestions let me know. 2016 has been a very shocking year for celebrity deaths. See the list here.
12/25/16 – George Michael
Singer Was Reclusive over the Last Few Years
As we close out 2016, one of the absolute worst years for celebrity deaths, singer George Michael was found dead on Christmas morning. The singer died of heart failure in his sleep and was found in a “peaceful state.” Previous to that he has suffered pneumonia and other health challenges as well as bouts with drugs. Michael’s fans never got enough of him and he was in the process of planning a tour and filming a documentary about is life when he died. He was 53
Michael’s career was laced with major success including top selling albums with the group Wham (1981-1986) and he enjoyed greater success as a solo artist. Michael encountered controversy when he won both “Favorite Male Vocalist Soul/R&B in 1989 as well as Favorite Male Vocalist Pop from the American Music Awards. no word on funeral arrangements as of yet.
12/26/16 – Ricky Harris
Comedian Ricky Harris has died from a heart attack. He was 54. He was best known for several projects with snoop dogg and his character “DJ Easy Dick” on several of Snoop’s albums. He was also known from the Chris Rock TV show Everybody Hates Chris. He has 47 film credits including his most recent Check Point and The Workout Room. No word on services yet.