December 31, 2015 – We said goodbye to the great Natalie Cole on New Years Eve of 2015. RIP Natalie. “Click “Next” above or below post to see the next great industry person that we lost.”
William Guest (Gladys Knight and the Pips)
December 24, 2015: Talk about sad irony. I was in a singing group with William Guest’s son Perry Ponder Guest (pictured) in the 80s, Perry died tragically this year in a major car accident and his birthday was today (Christmas) His father who he always spoke fondly of, died a day before Perry’s birthday of heart failure. RIP Mr. Guest and my friend Perry. “Click “Next” above or below post to see the next great industry person that we lost.”
WGCI Chicago’s DJ Timbuck2 Passes
December 18, 2015: RFFocus has learned that prominent Chicago Hip Hop DJ, DJ Timbuck2 has passed from complications of cancer on Saturday morning. Timothy Jones aka “Timbuck2” played on Chicago’s WGCI daily in an afternoon drive time segment (5PM). WGCI PD Derrick Brown states: “Timbuck2 was a premier turntable technician. His creativity and ear for music was unparalleled. Tim loved Chicago and was an ambassador around the world for our music. He leaves a huge void that will be extremely difficult to fill.”
Radio One mourns the passing of our friend and colleague, Tony Washington, VP of Advertising Sales for Reach Media. It is hard to think of Radio One and not think of Tony Washington. He joined Radio One in 1991 when the company had just two radio stations in Washington, DC rising to General Manager of our Washington, DC radio stations and then VP of Advertising Sales. Tony was as loyal and trusted an employee as you could ever want, who always fiercely advocated for and protected Radio One’s share of the advertising pie. (Click “Next” above or below the post for the next person that we said goodbye to in 2015)
RFFocus is sad to report the death of radio veteran Amos Brown. As I was listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show this morning, they had nothing but incredible things to say about Amos Brown and Tom, Sybil, and J offered their sincere condolences.
Amos Brown was a two-time NAB Marconi Awards finalist and Indiana Broadcaster Hall of Famer. The man spent 40 years in Indianapolis radio as a recoginized and well respected on-air personality. WTTV Television reports Brown died of a heart attack after collapsing Friday. He was only 64. Brown hosted Afternoons With Amos weekdays from 1-3 on Radio One’s AM 1310 The Light.
DERRICK “D-KNOWLEDGE” GILBERT
November 5, 2015 Writer/Performer Dr. Derrick Gilbert, PhD, a/k/a poet D-Knowledge, lost his battle with liver disease on Sunday morning, November 1, 2015. He was 45. Straddling the worlds of entertainment and academia, Gilbert wrote for the NAACP Image Awards from 1993 to 2001 while earning his Doctorate in Sociology, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and teaching at UCLA and UC Berkeley. He originally suggested and helped launch the Image Awards’ Literature categories, which are still an important part of the annual awards competition. His music and poetry CD, “All That and a Bag of Words” was released by Quincy Jones’ Qwest Records/Warner Bros Records in 1995.
Three 6 Mafia’s Koopsta Knicca Dies from Massive Stroke
October 9, 2015: Robert Cooper Phillips, aka “Koopsta Knicca” a member of the Memphis hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia, died early Friday morning after suffering a massive stroke. He was 40. “Everyone who knew Koop knew he was very funny and the coolest guy ever. He will be missed. We made classics together that’ll live on.” said Three 6 Mafia’s DJ Paul
The Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles was the site for the Celebration of the Life of the late John Barry Pleasant, Jr., known to many of us as J.B. Stone, on Thursday 1 October 2015. The Pleasant family was joined by a number of veteran radio and records personnel, who came to pay our respects. Here are some of the pictures from the day. R.I.P. J.B. Stone.
(Good friends: Mike Stradford, Maxx Myrick, Steve Harris)
October 1, 2015: RFFocus is sad to announce the passing of industry vet Steve Harris. He had been ill for quite some time according to sources and passed away yesterday. Harris programmed many Urban ACs and was the Director of Urban Programming in the 90s and 2000s. He was responsible from launching Tom Joyner, Doug Banks and other urban formats. He was most recently with Radio One in Cincinnati.
August 28, 2015: RFFocus would like to send our condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of radio veteran Bobby Bennett. Also known to many as “The Mighty Burner,” Bennett passed away Tuesday evening in Florida at the age of 75 years old. The Pittsburgh native suffered a stroke in July, which would eventually lead to his passing.
Bobbi Kristina Brown
July 26, 2015: You can’t help but to feel for Bobbi Kristina Brown. She saw a lot, perhaps too much in her younger years and had to be devastated when her mother, one of the biggest stars in the world Whitney Houston, died. I was just telling someone today that I have not talked to in many years that the music business is not quite what it seems to fans there is so much more that takes place behind the scenes. Whitney and Bobby Brown’s only child Bobbi Kristina has died. She died at a hospice just outside Atlanta after being taken off life support and medications since she was found in a bathtub face down earlier this year. She had been in the hospice facility for a little over a month before her death today. She was 22.
Chicago Radio DJ Wali Muhammad Dies
July 20, 2015: According to his daughter, Chicago radio legend, Wali Muhammad has died after suffering a brain injury when he fell at his home in May. He was 67 years of age at the time of his death. Wali Muhammad, known as “the Communicator,” fell into a coma after the accident and never recovered, friends and family said. He died Thursday night, July 16, 2015. Muhammad was a former DJ for V-103 and was also an experience Voice Over artist.
July 15, 2015:
Joey Robinson Jr. is said to be the one who discovered Sugar Hill Gang member Master Gee rapping in a pizza shop (other accounts state it was actually Sylvia Robinson, his famous mother, who was in the Pizza shop that day). He told his father Joe Sr. about Master Gee and Master Gee, Wonder Mike And Big Bank Hank were signed to the label as The Sugarhill Gang releasing their first crossover smash hit and the first rap record to be on a label Rappers Delight, which sampled Chic’s previous smash hit from 1978 “Good Times.”
Moses “Lucky” Cordell
July 9, 2015: Chicago radio legend Moses “Lucky” Cordell aka “The Baron of Bounce”, has made his transition. Lucky succumbed to burns suffered when he attempted to rescue one of his daughters, Pat, from a fire at his home last week. Lucky rose for on-air personality to General Manager at legendary radio station WVON 1450-AM in Chicago during the 1960s and 1970s. For the past few years Lucky had faithfully spent his days visiting his wife who is in an assisted living facility not from his home. Think of that as you listen to “This Woman I love” and “My Love” below. He will be missed and may his soul rest-in-peace.
June 19, 2015: As I write this I am still in shock and so disappointed that I did not get to have another conversation with someone I truly and rarely consider a real friend in AND out of the industry. I have learned tonight that industry vet Elise Wright-Maharaj has passed. I have known her for several years. Rarely have I met a person in the industry who was so kind-hearted, full of joy, laughter and concern for others. You just KNEW that Elise was that rare industry person who would take your call if you were not working even just to offer a few words of encouragement.
June 13, 2015: A former St. Louis jock was forced to eat the peanuts she didn’t sell that were left over at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. When she didn’t have any peanuts she would pretend to be a guest and eat at the local hotel buffets until she was busted by employees and thrown out when trying to stuff food in her purse.
LaVerne Holliday, 60, died penniless and sick from an aggressive form of breast cancer June 3. She lost her job as a popular host of a jazz show on WSIE at Southern Illinois University in 2002. Shortly thereafter, she had to take care of her mom who died in 2005.
I’m saddened to hear that industry sister, Rayva Harrell, passed away this weekend, June 6th after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was a talent booker, producer and TV executive, working with Quincy Jones, Don Cornelius, Russell Simmons, Steve Harvey, at BET, Nickelodeon and with Sonja & Willie Norwood at the Norwood Talent Agency.
June 9, 2015: Chris Pringle, a veteran music industry and entertainment executive best known for his promotion work at Uptown, Cold Chillin, Warner Brothers, Qwest, RCA and Scotti Bros. Records passed away on Monday, June 8…he was 48.
News of his unfortunate passing comes from his loving wife and business partner, Anita Wilson-Pringle.
May 22, 2015: Recently celebrating his 60th birthday on April 13th bassist and one half of The Brother’s Johnson, Louis Johnson has passed. He had a hugely successful career in the music industry playing in many sessions for many artist’s hit albums including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” His distinct style earned him the nickname “Thunder-Thumbs.” As a member of the 70s R&B/funk group The Brothers Johnson Louis and his brother George recording hits “Strawberry Letter 23,” “I’ll be Good To Ya,” “Stomp” and Get the Funk Out Ma Face.”
April 17, 2015: Singer Johnny Kemp was scheduled as a surprise guest (he was not posted on schedule – see image from cruise) to sing his smash hit “Just Got Paid” with producer Teddy Riley on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage cruise. An inside source on the ship from RFFocus informed us that Kemp was unable to board the ship during a stop in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Wed because he didn’t have his Residency Card. Other celebrities like Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind and Fire boarded in Montego Bay for a performance that night but departed the same night, Kemp was scheduled to perform on Friday as a surprise guest for a New Jack Swing segment late Friday night along with Christopher Williams, Chubb Rock and Teddy Riley, who was the producer of Just Got Paid.
Feb 23, 2015: Industry vet Al Anderson passed away last week unexpectedly. He was taken off life support on Wednesday after being found unresponsive in his home. Al, the owner of Anderson Communications, was innovative, creating the syndicated radio show “Inspirations Across America” hosted by Bert Johnson and produced by Vanessa Vaughn at a time when syndication was still relatively rare in black radio markets. I worked with the show to bring in notables like Heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield and comedian Jonathan Slocomb as celebrity co-hosts with Bert. At its height, it was the number one syndicated gospel radio show heard nationally. He went on to produce other radio shows and vignettes.
Feb 23, 2015: Jazz Trumpeter Clark Terry who has been a musician for 7 decades and worked with such greats as Duke Ellington, Count Bassie and Quincy jones succumbed to his long battle with diabetes. He was 94.
Feb 23, 2015: We are saddened to hear that our industry brother, mentor and friend, David Banks, passed away on Saturday, February 21st. Those of you on FB have already been sharing your condolences and his family reports that a public memorial will be announced shortly. For now, please keep them in your prayers as they prepare to lay him to rest.
David had experienced a mild heart attack in 2013, just before his 81st birthday, and we were thrilled when he attended the annual picnic that October. His daughter, Donnie, brought him in a wheelchair and we all cheered when he stood up and danced! This last picnic on October 5, 2014 would be his last one with us and this time Donnie brought David and his son. He was not as energetic but he was still hilarious, holding court and talking smack.
Feb 4, 2015: Vince Pellegrino founder of the S.I.N. (Street Information Network) and Pellegrino Entertainment Group over 30 years ago has passed from cancer. He was surrounded by loved ones. Pellegrino was also known for his S.I.N Awards at the end of every year held in New York before the industry break.
Jan 8, 2015
Andre Crouch, the legendary gospel performer died today. He died at Northridge Hospital Thursday afternoon. He wrote his first song at 14.
Grammy winner Jason Crabb reacts to the passing of Andrae’ Crouch:
To say the legendary Andrae’ Crouch was an influence on my life would be a vast understatement. One of the highlights of my career was to perform his classic song, “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power,” as he played the piano during a Bill Gaither video taping – I’ll never forget it. We’ve lost a true pioneer and he will be missed. – Jason Crabb
Jan 4, 2015: Christopher “Big Dose” Thorne a jock and promotions director for WVBE (the Vibe 101.1) in Roanoke-Lynchburg has been killed in a car crash in Panama. He was 45. Thorne started his career in Atlanta and then moved to WBHH/Norfolk and joined the Vibe in 1989.