In Memoriam|

Shawn Chavez, Lead Guitarist for Colorado Band Havok, Dies: Former lead guitarist of Denver, Colorado thrashers Havok, Shawn Tyler Chavez, passed away at the age of 30. He was a member of Havok from 2004 – 2010. An official cause of death has not been revealed.

Frontman David Sanchez issued the following statement:

It is with deep regret that I must inform fans, friends, and family of Havok that Shawn Tyler Chavez, the former lead guitarist of Havok, passed away on April 30, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 30 years old. Shawn was the very first lead guitarist of Havok and helped forge the band’s sound in the early years. Without Shawn’s dedication during the first 6 years of the band, Havok would not be where it is today.

Shawn entered Havok just in time for the band’s first scheduled performance, a high school talent show. He was a founding member and gave the band its very first guitar solos and harmonies. He also contributed to many of the lyrics on the “Burn” album. At one of the first meetings I had with him, I remember Shawn bringing a red Strat-style guitar into the rehearsal room with the word “Shawnacaster” tagged onto the headstock in his swirly, graffiti-esque handwriting. Shawn used to wear a tie-dye shirt at least once a week and I will never forget the times we made tie-dye Havok shirts to fit his style.

When he was being himself, Shawn was a riot. The guy was super funny and entertaining… He made me laugh a lot with his jokes, slang, witty comebacks, rhymes, and hilarious physical comedy accompanied by beatboxing. I met Shawn when he was a 17 year old Jimmy Page lookalike, so it was quite interesting to see him grow from a shy young man into a flying V-weilding lead guitar player for a heavy metal band. He loved Led Zeppelin and could play just about any Page solo better than Page does on the records! He was an extremely talented blues player and it’s obvious on songs like “Path To Nowhere”, “Identity Theft”, and “To Hell”. Shawn was VERY smart and I learned a lot from him through our discussions about history, religion, politics, and music. Though we would argue at times, he was quick to let things go and move on with life. This is a quality I admired in him and I wish more people in the world possessed this quality. The usual icebreaker after an argument was a stupid joke that would make me laugh and ease any tension. People that knew him can remember his passion for meaningful debate and a desire to see ideas evolve to their best conclusions. The world would benefit from having more intelligent, funny, charming, kind, thought-provoking individuals like “Shawnathan”.

I would like to wish condolences to his family and those close to him. Shawn was a gentle, likable, sensitive, and well-spoken individual. He was one of my best friends during adolescence and he taught me a lot about an array of topics. It is sad to see him pass at such a young age. Shawn’s contributions can be heard throughout the first Havok full-length album, “Burn” and various other early recordings.

May he rock in peace.

– David

Taylor Hindman: Incredible words for an even more incredible person. I wish I could have had the pleasure of knowing him and I am very sorry to hear this. My condolences go out to everyone and may he rest well.

Dianne Zarlengo: I am so sorry to hear about Shawn. He was a very nice, kind man. I remember him so well from the early days of Havok when I would go to the shows with Tony. He was a great guitarist. I am very sad for you, David, and for his friends and family. The music world lost a great musician. R.I.P, Shawn….
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Guy Carawan, Known for Civil Rights Anthem’ We Shall Overcome’, Dies

Guy Carawan, whose rendition of the song “We Shall Overcome” became an anthem of the U.S. civil rights movement, has died at his home in Tennessee, The New York Times reported. He was 87.

Carawan, a white folk singer, did not write the song, which has a long oral history that can be traced back to a church hymn in the late 19th Century that was taken up as a rally cry among labor activists in the 1940s.

Carawan first performed “We Shall Overcome”, to a group of black students in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1960 – and it quickly became the anthem of the civil rights movement, the New York Times said on Thursday.

It was sung at demonstrations and rallies throughout the 1960s, including the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery led by slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

In the decades since, it has been performed by Tiananmen Square protesters and at the dismantled Berlin Wall, the Times reported.

In a 1999 interview with NPR about the song’s history, Carawan said he learned the lyrics and melody from a friend in California.

“He taught me this song, and he also had put some chords to it. He sang the guitar with it. So he had a guitar with harmony like, (singing) ‘we shall overcome someday. Oh, deep in my heart I do believe, yes, that we shall overcome someday’,” he said, reciting the lyrics.

The son of Southern parents, Carawan was born in 1927 in Santa Monica, California.

He moved to New York City and became active in the folk revival movement in the 1950s. The version of “We Shall Overcome” sung by Carawan was forged with the help of fellow folk artist Pete Seeger, the Times reported.

Carawan and his second wife, Candie, taught music for decades at the Highlander Research and Education Center, a social justice leadership school, in New Market, Tennessee.

Carawan, who suffered from dementia, died on Saturday and his final moments were peaceful, his wife told local media.

By Thomson Reuters

COMBO Member Dick Weissman adds: Guy was one of the four co-arranger of “We Shall Overcome” (Pete, Seeger, Frank Hamilton, and Zilphia Horton.) When Horton died, Guy took over the music position at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. Guy compiled collections of mountain songs, and his two books about the music of the civil rights movement are classics. He was also a performer who made a number of recordings, and accompanied Alan Lomax on a couple of his records.

Thanks for the additional info, Dick We appreciate the personal insight into our fabulous musicians.

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Craig Gruber, Bassist for Rainbow, Dies

Craig Gruber (June 22, 1951 – May 5, 2015) was an American rock bassist, best known as the original bassist in Rainbow and most recently was a member for the band Zvekan. He also played in Elf, consisting of vocalist Ronnie James Dio, keyboardist Mickey Lee Soule, drummer Gary Driscoll and guitarist David Feinstein.

Elf released three albums before they joined Ritchie Blackmore in his newly formed band Rainbow in mid-1975. Gruber played on Rainbow’s first album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Soon after the album was released, Blackmore fired everyone except Dio.

Gruber played live with Gary Moore on his supporting tour for his album Victims of the Future, and featured on Moore’s 1984 live album We Want Moore. In 1980 he formed Bible Black with former Elf and Rainbow drummer Gary Driscoll. The band produced two albums before Driscoll’s murder in 1987.

Near the end of his life, Gruber had been building a line of high-end “soloing” basses, which can be seen at Infinite Metal Werkz. Gruber had also been working on an Elf reunion, even though such a prospect seemed unlikely given the deaths of Driscoll and frontman Ronnie James Dio; both of whom had been members of the band from foundation until dissolution.

Early in 2010 Gruber formed “ED3N”- a metal band in the classic rock genre. The band featured vocalist Jeff Fenholt and guitarist David Shankle, of DSG and formerly Manowar.

On April 18, 2013 it was announced that Gruber joined the band Raven Lord.

On November 7, 2013, Gruber announced via Facebook that he became part of a newly formed band founded by Csaba Zvekan called Zvekan.

Gruber died of prostate cancer in Florida on May 5, 2015, aged 63.

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Bassist for ABBA, Rutger Gunnarsson, Dies

Rutger Gunnarsson (12 February 1946 – 8 May 2015) was a Swedish musician, bass guitarist, guitarist, arranger and producer.

Gunnarsson grew up in Ledberg parish. His career began with Björn Ulvaeus in the Hootenanny Singers. He went on to work with ABBA, playing on all their albums and was on their tours. He later worked on several musicals and musical events, including: Chess, Les Misérables, Rhapsody In Rock, 007, Mamma Mia!, Bananas in Pajamas, and Diggiloo. Gunnarsson also arranged strings and played bass for others, including Celine Dion, Westlife, Elton John, Adam Ant, and Bobbysocks. He produced and arranged music for artists such as Gwen Stefani, Elin Lanto, Joyride, and Alla Pugacheva.

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Johnny Gimble, Country Fiddler, Dies

John Paul Gimble (May 30, 1926 – May 9, 2015), better known as Johnny Gimble, was an American country musician associated with Western swing. Gimble was considered one of the most important fiddlers in the genre.

Gimble was born in Tyler, Texas and grew up in the nearby community of Bascom. He began playing in a band with his brothers at age 12, and continued playing with two of them, George and Jerry, as the Rose City Swingsters. The trio played local radio gigs, but soon after Gimble moved to Louisiana and began performing with Jimmie Davis Gubernatorial campaign. He returned to Texas after completing his service in the U.S. Army in WWII.

After serving in World War II, Gimble returned to Texas and continued to hone his fiddling skills with a number of Texas radio and dance bands. In 1948 he made his first recording, playing with Robert Bro’s Rhythmairs in Corpus Christi, and one year later he joined Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, with whom he toured for most of the next decade. With Wills, he played both fiddle and electric mandolin, and distinguished himself by using a five-string fiddle (most fiddles have four strings). Gimble’s fiddling style, while uniquely his own, was greatly influenced by other Texas fiddlers who played the “breakdown” fiddle tunes. What came to be known as the “Texas fiddling style” emerged during the first half of the twentieth century among fiddlers such as Cliff Bruner, Louis Tierney, and Jesse Ashlock. Gimble learned from them, and further developed while playing with Wills, who epitomized and promoted a new sound known as Western swing. Western swing rose to national prominence in the 1940s, combining the old-time, Southern-derived Anglo string band tradition, with its breakdowns, schottisches, waltzes, and reels, with the big band jazz and pop music of the day.

After Gimble’s marriage to Barbara Kemp of Gatesville, Texas, in 1949, he settled in Dallas. There, in the 1950s, he began doing radio and television shows with Bill and Jim Boyd (of the Lone Star Cowboys) and performed on The Big D Jamboree, a weekly variety show broadcast live from the Sportatorium in Dallas. He broke off to form his own group in 1951, performing as the house band at Wills’s club in Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, but rejoined in 1953 and continued to play with Wills until the early 1960s. He played fiddle on Marty Robbins’ #1 hit “I’ll Go on Alone”.

In 1955 Gimble, moved to Waco and supplemented his income from hosting a local television show Johnny Gimble & the Homefolks by working as a barber and at the V.A. hospital. In 1968, after repeated encouragement from his peers, Johnny moved his family to Nashville, TN. From then on, his steady work as a session musician included sessions with Merle Haggard on his Bob Wills tribute album, Conway Twitty, Connie Smith, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, and Chet Atkins on Superpickers in 1973. The following year he took a cue from a song he wrote and performed on the Atkins’ Superpickers album, Fiddlin’ Around and recorded the first of ten solo albums, Fiddlin’ Around.

From 1979 to 1981, Gimble toured with Willie Nelson worldwide. In 1983, Gimble assembled a Texas swing group featuring Ray Price on vocals, and charted a country radio hit with “One Fiddle, Two Fiddle,” featured in the Clint Eastwood movie Honkytonk Man, where Johnny had a supporting role as Bob Wills. Gimble appeared in the 1970s through the 2000s on Austin City Limits television and Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcasts. Gimble was also a member of the Million Dollar Band.

Johnny and his son Dick Gimble, a College Professor of Music, started a fiddle camp and with the help of daughter Cyndy ensured that the western swing style of country music was passed on to the next generation.

Gimble died shortly before his eighty-ninth birthday on May 9, 2015.

Gimble’s granddaughter, Emily, is a notable vocalist and keyboard player who has performed with Johnny Gimble and other bands. Emily currently plays with Asleep at the Wheel as keyboardist and vocalist, a band that frequently partnered with Johnny to bring the music of Bob Wills to newer generations. Gimble’s grandson, Jon Gimble, is the District Clerk in McLennan County as of January 2015.

Awards: From 1975 through 1990, he won five Best Instrumentalist awards from the Country Music Awards and nine Best Fiddle Player awards from the Academy of Country Music. Gimble was also nominated for a Grammy award for his performance on the 1993 Mark O’Connor album Heroes. Gimble was awarded two Grammys: 1994 for his arrangement of “Red Wing” on the Bob Wills tribute album by “Asleep At The Wheel”; and 1995- for Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Hightower” with Asleep At The Wheel. In 1994, Gimble was awarded the National heritage Fellowship as a Master Folk Artist from the National Endowment for the arts.

His latest album, Celebrating with Friends features duos with long-time collaborators Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Dale Watson, son Dick Gimble, daughter Emily Gimble, and was produced by Ray Benson. Other albums include A Case of the Gimbles;  Under the X in Texas; Still Fiddlin’ Around; Glorybound: Texas Fiddle Collection; Johnny Gimble & the Texas Swing Pioneers; Johnny Gimble’s Texas Honky Tonk Hits; Johnny Gimble’s Texas Dance Party;
and Fiddlin’ Around.

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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…

May 2015

13: Bob Randall, Australian Indigenous musician and author.

11: Stan Cornyn, 81, American record label executive.

10: Jack Body, 70, New Zealand composer; Victor Salvi, 95, American-born Italian harpist and harp maker.

9: Johnny Gimble, 88, American country music fiddler; Ton Hartsuiker, 81, Dutch pianist and director of music academies.

8: Rutger Gunnarsson, 69, Swedish bassist (ABBA, Elton John) (death announced on this date)

6: Errol Brown, 71, Jamaican-born British singer (Hot Chocolate), liver cancer; Jerome Cooper, 68, American jazz drummer, cancer.

5: Craig Gruber, 63, American rock musician (Rainbow, Bible Black, Raven Lord), prostate cancer; Oscar Holderer, 95, German-born American engineer, worked on Saturn V project.


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