In Memoriam: B.B. King, Elbert Lee West, Stan Cornyn, Rapper ‘Chinx’
B.B. King Dies at the age of 89: Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known by his stage name B.B. King, was an American Hall of Fame blues singer, songwriter and guitarist.
Rolling Stone ranked King number 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time (previously ranked number 3 in the 2003 edition of the same list). He was ranked No. 17 in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. According to Edward M. Komara, King “introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed.” King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King). King was also known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing at more than 200 concerts per year on average into his 70s. In 1956, he reportedly appeared at 342 shows.
In 1990, King was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George H.W. Bush. In 2006, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time, inspiring countless other electric blues and blues rock guitarists.
Illness and death: After the cancellation of the remaining eight shows of his 2014 tour because of health problems, King announced on October 8, 2014, he was back at home to recuperate. On May 1, 2015, after two hospitalizations caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes, King announced on his website that he was in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died in his sleep on May 14, 2015 from a series of small strokes caused by type 2 diabetes.
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King was married twice, to Martha Lee Denton, 1946 to 1952, and to Sue Carol Hall, 1958 to 1966. The failure of both marriages has been attributed to the heavy demands made on the marriage by King’s 250 performances a year. It is reported that he fathered 15 children with several different women and, as of 2004, had 50 grandchildren. He lived with diabetes for over 20 years and was a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products along with American Idol season 9 contestant Crystal Bowersox.
King was an FAA certificated private pilot and learned to fly in 1963 at what was then Chicago Hammond Airport in Lansing, Illinois. He frequently flew to gigs but, under the advice of his insurance company and manager in 1995, was asked to fly only with another certified pilot. As a result, he stopped flying around the age of 70.
King’s favorite singer was Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography he spoke about how he was a “Sinatra nut” and how he went to bed every night listening to Sinatra’s classic album In the Wee Small Hours. Sinatra had gotten King into the main clubs in Las Vegas during the 1960s. He credited Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who were not given the chance to play in “white-dominated” venues.
Wikipedia offers an extensive biography of Mr. King:
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Elbert Lee West Dies – Writer of “Sticks and Stones”
Elbert Lee West (July 15, 1967 – May 18, 2015) was an American country music artist. Initially a session songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee, West saw his first chart success in the 1990s as a co-writer on singles for country singer Tracy Lawrence, including the Number Ones “Sticks and Stones” and “Can’t Break It to My Heart”. West co-wrote album tracks for other artists, including tracks for Tim McGraw and John Michael Montgomery.
By 2001, West had signed to Broken Bow Records, then a newly formed independent label, and his debut album, Livin’ the Life, was released that year. West co-wrote ten of the album’s thirteen tracks, while others — including “(This One’s Gonna) Leave a Mark”, previously recorded by John Michael Montgomery — were co-written by Randy Archer and Johnny Park, formerly of the duo Archer/Park. “Diddley”, which peaked at No. 56 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts, was the album’s lead single and West’s only single to chart. “Diddley” was also made into a music video, which aired on CMT. Erik Hage of Allmusic gave the album four stars out of five, saying, “West has a big, husky baritone, a keen songwriting ability, a defiant attitude, and is a major country talent.”
West died on May 18, 2015, aged 47, from undisclosed causes
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Stan Cornyn, Creative Record Executive, Is Dead at 81
Stan Cornyn, an offbeat recording industry executive known both for his unusual promotions and for his album notes, two of which won Grammy Awards, died on Monday at his home in Carpinteria, Calif. He was 81. The cause was cancer, said his longtime companion, Meg Barbour.
Mr. Cornyn joined Warner Bros. Records when it was founded in 1958 by the movie studio of the same name, primarily to market film soundtracks and vocal records by the studio’s stars. The label eventually emerged as a major player, especially after acquiring Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records in 1963.
Mr. Cornyn played a vital role in the company’s growth. His advertising and promotion campaigns in the 1960s and ’70s helped raise the profiles of many artists, including Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison.
Bob Merlis, a former colleague at Warner Bros., recalled that most “record men” at the time were “horn players who couldn’t get a gig,” while Mr. Cornyn, by contrast, was a “Martian in the music business.”
“He looked at these strange creatures running around, and he was intrigued by them,” Mr. Merlis added. “And in his work, he said the business didn’t have to take itself all that seriously.”
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He was also an acknowledged master of liner-note writing. In “Stay Tuned,” his blog for the Rhino Records website, he wrote that liner notes had originally been seen as unimportant; that changed, he said, when “the recording sessions got showbizzy with fun stars” and “their albums appealed to people who were old enough to read.” He wrote liner notes for albums by Count Basie, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Jimmy Durante, Duke Ellington, Dean Martin, Mr. Newman and others. But his best-known notes were the many he wrote for Sinatra.
Mr. Cornyn was nominated for five Grammy Awards for writing about Sinatra, and won twice: for “September of My Years” (1965) and “Sinatra at the Sands” (1966). In notes for Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” (1966), he wrote: “He isn’t with the times. More than any other singer, he is the times. If the guitar were dis-invented tonight, a few thousand singers would be out on the amps. But not Sinatra. He defies fad.”
“Sinatra, when he sings at you, doesn’t look at you,” Mr. Cornyn continued. “He looks about six inches behind your eyes. His eyes a little far away. A little closer to where truth lives. If you want to pick a word for it, pick one in seven easy letters. Honesty.”
After serving as director of creative services and then executive vice president, Mr. Cornyn was named senior vice president of all of Warner Music’s labels in 1982. He later ran Warner New Media as the company stormed into the compact disc market. He left in 1991.
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He was married and divorced twice. In addition to Ms. Barbour, he is survived by two sons, Christopher and Thomas Cornyn, and two grandchildren.
Mr. Cornyn was the author (with Paul Scanlon) of a boisterous book, “Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group” (2002).
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A version of this article appears in print on May 16, 2015, on page B8 of the New York edition with the headline: Stan Cornyn, 81, Music Executive With a Gift for Promotion.
By Sam Roberts
Read the whole article here [shortened]:
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Rapper Lionel ‘Chinx’ Pickens Fatally Shot in New York
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York rapper Lionel Pickens, who goes by the name “Chinx”, was shot and killed on Sunday while driving through the city’s borough of Queens, police said.
Pickens, 31, had multiple gun shot wounds to his torso and was pronounced dead at an area hospital. A 27-year-old male, who was also in the car and has not been identified, suffered gun shot wounds to his back and is in critical condition, police said.
“There are no arrests at this time. The investigation is ongoing,” police said in a statement.
Pickens was a member of rapper French Montana’s Coke Boys group, and under the name “Chinx Drugs” was featured on songs that included “I’m a Coke Boy”.
Police told local media that Pickens had performed at a club and was driving in a Porsche when another car approached and opened fire.
Reuters | Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Tom Heneghan
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
20: Bob Belden, 58, American musician.
19: Bruce Lundvall, 79, American record executive (Blue Note Records), complications from surgery.
18: Elbert West, 46, American country music singer-songwriter (Sticks and Stones).
17: Chinx, 31, American rapper, shot.
16: Flora MacNeil, 86, Scottish Gaelic singer.
15: Ortheia Barnes, 70, American R&B and jazz singer, heart failure.
14: B.B. King, 89, American Hall of Fame blues guitarist, singer and songwriter (“The Thrill Is Gone”), complications from diabetes.
13: Robert Drasnin, 87, American composer and clarinet player, complications from a fall; Bob Randall, c. 80, Australian Indigenous musician and author.
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