Billy Block – Drummer and True Musician’s Friend
From Essra Mohawk on Fb, 3/13/15: A friend and great drummer, Billy Block, passed away the other day. I really thought he would overcome his illness when I was overcoming mine, but sadly, he lost the battle. I’m grateful that he played on my Killer Groove Band album and, if you haven’t heard it, you should so you can hear Billy’s impeccable and groove driven drum work. It’s one of the best album’s I’ve ever made and Billy was a large part of why it’s so good as was the late great bass player, Tim Drummond! Maybe they’ll be playing together in the afterlife…
From June McHugh on Fb, 3/14/15: Today I was looking through some “stuff” and getting some “things” in order, and I came upon a Billy Block guitar pick. It made me smile, and it told me my friend was looking over me. I was privileged to meet Billy and Jill Rochlitz Block when they came out to Breckenridge, CO as mentors for a program Tom Gould and I started called BEAMS. Billy and Jill were the quintessential mentors, and new friendships were begun. Billy so loved my “Meditation Balm,” and Jill danced and sang with me and Tom in our home. Heartstrings keep all of us together, even when someone we love graduates to the next realm. I love you Billy, I love you Jill, and I love your boys. Thank You All for being a part of my life!
Billy Block Funeral Set for Ryman Auditorium March 23rd
Posted By Abby White
Funeral arrangements have been announced for Billy Block, who died Thursday at the age of 59 after his third bout with melanoma. His wife Jill, who, in addition to keeping friends and family informed of Billy’s condition via Facebook, has exemplified an incredible amount of strength and grace throughout her husband’s fearless fight against cancer. Her most recent Facebook post reads as follows:
Block, who famously championed emerging artists, gave hundreds of musicians their first shot in front of a live Nashville audience through his weekly Billy Block shows, and we think he’d be tickled at the idea of a sold-out Ryman Auditorium to celebrate his life. Oh, and Jill’s joke about the $6 show for $5? That was another Billy-ism, referencing his famously low cover charge for his show.
Jill asks that, in lieu of flowers, those who would like to make a donation to the Billy Block Family Fund:
Let’s give Billy the loudest, happiest funeral ever. He deserves it.
From Somerville on Fb, 3/14/15: So sad to hear of the passing of Billy Block. Not only was he a friend to all and a champion of the independent music scene, he was also a great musician. We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform with him and share some of that musical magic that he so generously bestowed upon us all, truly an inspiration. Here we are rockin’ out at Thunder Bash 2013 [photo], makin’ some great memories!
Final Arrangements for Billy Block:
Funeral at the Ryman Auditorium, Monday, March 23rd, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. Awesome. 116 Fifth Avenue North • Nashville, TN 37219
Visitation at Downtown Presbyterian Church. Sunday, March 22nd, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., 154 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219
Burial and graveside service at Calvary Cemetery, Tuesday, March 24th at 11:00 a.m.,1001 Lebanon Road, Nashville, TN 37210
All services are open to the public. Seating is obviously limited. The Ryman Service will be such a celebration of Billy Block. I might even have to charge $5 at the door but I promise I’ll give you a $6 show. KIDDING KIDDING. Come on and let’s do this. No cover charge – now don’t start any rumors that I’m charging at a funeral….
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Billy Block Family Fund.
There are two ways to contribute to the Billy Block Family Fund:
Donate online via PayPal
Go to http://www.paypal.com and donate using the e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate via Check
You can donate with a check made payable to the Billy Block Family Fund, and mail to:
Wells Fargo Private Bank, 3100 West End Ave., One American Center, Suite 550, Nashville, TN 37203 – Attention: Bradley Gallimore.
This fund was created in 2013 when Billy was diagnosed to help the Block family make ends meet. The Billy Block Family Fund has already been able to give back to organizations that have helped their fight via fundraising concerts and through sales of safe healing alternatives at their new website http://www.nashvillenontoxic.com. The goal of the Fund is to not only provide for the family during this time, but to aide others via contributions of time and money to Musicares, the Opry Trust Fund, Music Health Alliance, and Meals 2 Heal. These organizations have all been assisting the Block family during their time of crisis.
Billy Block Family Fund and Nashville Non-Toxic are not a 501(c)(3).
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Michael Joseph Porcaro – Toto
Michael Joseph Porcaro (May 29, 1955 – March 15, 2015) was an American bass player known for his work with Toto. He retired from touring in 2007 as a result of being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
He was the middle brother of Toto members Jeff Porcaro and Steve Porcaro. Their father is jazz drummer-percussionist Joe Porcaro.
Porcaro stopped performing with Toto in 2007 after a growing numbness in his fingers that made it increasingly difficult for him to play. He was replaced by Leland Sklar for the remainder of the tour and Toto disbanded in 2008. On February 26, 2010, it was announced via official press release that Mike Porcaro was suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and that former band members of Toto, including Steve Porcaro, would reform and do a short tour through Europe in support of him in the summer of 2010. The regrouped Toto continue to tour and perform for Mike’s benefit in 2011. Nathan East was the guest bass player for the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 tours.
In September 2012, it was reported in Classic Rock magazine that he was doing as well as could be expected with his disease, but he was in a wheelchair as the disease was progressing.
On March 15, 2015, Porcaro died in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles.
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Andy Fraser, Bassist for Free, Dies at Age 62
Andrew McLan “Andy” Fraser (3 July 1952 – 16 March 2015) was an English songwriter and bass guitarist whose career lasted over forty years and includes a notable period as one of the founding members of the rock band Free in 1968, at age 15.
Fraser was born in the Paddington area of Central London and started playing the piano at the age of five. He was trained classically until twelve, when he switched to guitar. By thirteen he was playing in East End, West Indian clubs and after being expelled from school in 1968 at age 15, enrolled at Hammersmith F.E. College where another student, Sappho Korner, introduced him to her father, pioneering blues musician and radio broadcaster Alexis Korner, who became a father-figure to him. Shortly thereafter, upon receiving a telephone call from John Mayall, who was looking for a bass player, Korner suggested Fraser and, still only 15, he was in a pro band and earning £50 a week, although it ultimately turned out to be a brief tenure.
Korner was also instrumental in Fraser’s next move, to the influential band Free, which consisted of Paul Rodgers (vocals), Paul Kossoff (guitar) and Simon Kirke (drums). Fraser produced and co-wrote the song “All Right Now” with Rodgers, a #1 hit in over 20 territories and recognised by ASCAP in 1990 for garnering over 1,000,000 radio plays in the United States by late 1989. In October 2006 a BMI London Million-Air Award was given to Rodgers and Fraser to mark over 3 million radio and television plays of “All Right Now”. Simon Kirke later recalled: “All Right Now was created after a bad gig in Durham. We finished our show and walked off the stage to the sound of our own footsteps. The applause had died before I had even left the drum riser. It was obvious that we needed a rocker to close our shows. All of a sudden the inspiration struck Fraser and he started bopping around singing All Right Now. He sat down and wrote it right there in the dressing room. It couldn’t have taken more than ten minutes.”
Fraser also co-wrote two other hit singles for Free, My Brother Jake and The Stealer. Free initially split in 1971, and Fraser formed a trio, Toby, with guitarist Adrian Fisher (later with Sparks), and drummer Stan Speake. Material was recorded but not released, and Fraser re-joined Free in December 1971. He left for the second time in June 1972.
After leaving Free, Fraser formed Sharks with vocalist Snips (later Baker Gurvitz Army), guitarist Chris Spedding plus drummer, Marty Simon. Despite being well received by the critics, especially for Spedding’s tasteful guitar work (Crawdaddy Lead Review, Bruce Malamut Vol. 27, 1973) Fraser left after their debut album, First Water (1973).
He then formed the Andy Fraser Band, a trio with Kim Turner on drums and Nick Judd on keyboards. They released two albums, Andy Fraser Band and In Your Eyes, both in 1975, before that too folded. Attempts to form a band with Frankie Miller came to nothing, and Fraser re-located to California, to concentrate on songwriting. He crafted hits for Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Rod Stewart and Paul Young.
Fraser’s most famous compositions remain “All Right Now” and “Every Kinda People”, which Robert Palmer recorded in 1978 for his Double Fun album.
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Fraser died on 16 March 2015 at his home in California.
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Bruce Crump, Jr. – Molly Hatchet
Bruce Hull Crump, Jr. (July 17, 1957 – March 16, 2015) was the original drummer with the rock band Molly Hatchet from 1976 to 1983 (including their 1980 hit song “Flirtin’ with Disaster” ) and 1984 to 1991. He also played as a member of Canadian band Streetheart in the early 1980s, appearing on their Live After Dark recording, and joined several of his former Molly Hatchet bandmates in the band Gator Country in the mid-2000s. At his death, Crump was in the Jacksonville, Florida-based band White Rhino and the newly reformed China Sky.
Born in Memphis TN July 17, 1957. Grew up between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Fl. Married with two children, two boys (one boy, Bradley is also a drummer). He lived in Midlothian, Virginia but called “home” Richmond, Virginia.
When not involved in his band activities, he had a home business providing drum lessons, “Drum Lessons by Bruce”. He was also a licensed real-estate agent and briefly a web site designer.
July 2003 he was diagnosed with throat cancer.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
16: Bruce Crump, 57, American rock drummer (Molly Hatchet); Andy Fraser, 62, British bassist (John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Free).
15: Krishna Kalle, 74, Indian playback singer; Mike Porcaro, 59, American bassist (Toto), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
13: Daevid Allen, 77, Australian musician (Soft Machine, Gong).
12: Erol Büyükburç, 79, Turkish composer and singer.
11: Billy Block, 59, American roots musician, metastatic melanoma; Jimmy Greenspoon, 67, American keyboard player and composer (Three Dog Night), melanoma; Carlo Ubaldo Rossi, 56, Italian composer and music producer, traffic collision.