Christopher “Big Black” Boykin (January 13, 1972 – May 9, 2017) was an American entertainer and musician best known for his role on MTV’s Rob & Big, which followed him and his co-star, skateboarder Rob Dyrdek.
Boykin served in the United States Navy.
In a skit for DC Shoes, Dyrdek hired Boykin to be a bodyguard in order to protect him from security guards. In 2004, they played their characters again in The DC Video: Deluxe Edition DVD.
From November 2006 to April 2008, he and Dyrdek starred in the reality television series Rob & Big on MTV. Boykin set two Guinness world records for peeling and eating three bananas in 1 minute and for the most powdered doughnuts eaten in less than 3 minutes (5 donuts in 2 minutes, 45 seconds).
He was featured in skateboarding video games Skate, and Skate 2 alongside Dyrdek. An early episode of Rob & Big features Dyrdek and Boykin doing work on the first game at the game developer, EA Black Box. The series ended when Boykin left to attend to family matters. In 2011, he rekindled his relationship with Dyrdek and took a main role in Dyrdek’s show Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. He appeared on three episodes of Dyrdek’s other show Ridiculousness as well as MTV Guy Code and MTV Snack Off.
Boykin was married to Shannon Turley in 2008 until they divorced in 2009. Together they had one daughter named Isis.
Before his death, Boykin was hospitalized a week prior in Plano, Texas to monitor his heart, already having a defibrillator and previous heart issues. On May 9, 2017, doctors attempted to revive Boykin for 30 minutes, however he was pronounced dead at 4:00 p.m. (CDT). Although initially an official cause of death hadn’t been reported, it was cited that Boykin had suffered from a heart attack.
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Dave Pell, Jazz Saxophonist
David Pell (February 26, 1925 – May 8, 2017) was an American jazz saxophonist and bandleader. He was best known for leading a cool jazz octet in the 1950s.
Pell first played in his teens with the big bands of Tony Pastor, Bob Astor, and Bobby Sherwood, and then moved to California in the middle of the 1940s. There he played on Bob Crosby’s radio show in 1946, and was a member of Les Brown’s band from 1947 to 1955.
In 1953, he began working with his own ensembles, mostly as an octet: Pell on tenor sax, another saxophone (either a baritone or an alto), trumpet and trombone, guitar, and a piano-bass-drums rhythm section). Among the octet players were Pepper Adams, Benny Carter, Mel Lewis, Red Mitchell, Marty Paich, Art Pepper and, early his career, John Williams. These ensembles recorded in the 1950s for Atlantic, Kapp, Coral, Capitol, and RCA Victor; alongside this, he played as a sideman for Shorty Rogers, Pete Rugolo, Benny Goodman, and Gene Krupa. He also produced in the 1950s and 1960s for Tops, Uni and Liberty; among his credits in production were some singles by Gary Lewis & the Playboys.
In 1961, Pell switched to alto sax and clarinet for I Remember John Kirby, a tribute album to bassist/bandleader Kirby who led a successful small group in the 1930s and ’40s.
Pell was the recording session leader for the 1965 hit song “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)”, performed by Los Angeles studio musicians known as The Wrecking Crew but attributed to The T-Bones.
In the 1970s, he assembled the group Prez Conference, a Lester Young tribute ensemble. In the 1980s, he returned to the octet format, and played on and off into the 1990s.
While living in North Hollywood, Dave Pell was married to Babette and had two daughters, Sandra and Suzanne. He died on 8 May 2017 at the age of 92.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths
9: Christopher Boykin, 45, American entertainer and musician (Rob & Big), heart attack; Robert Miles, 47, Italian electronic dance musician and record producer.
8: Dave Pell, 92, American jazz musician; Mary Tsoni, 30, Greek actress and singer (Dogtooth).
6: Rais Khan, 77, Pakistani sitarist.
4: Mario Maglieri, 93, Italian-born American nightclub owner (Rainbow Bar and Grill, The Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go Go).
3: Charles Hoffer, 87, American music educator and author; Daliah Lavi, 74, Israeli actress (Casino Royale, The Spy with a Cold Nose, Catlow), singer and model; C’el Revuelta, American bassist (Black Flag), brain cancer; Saxa, 87, Jamaican-born British saxophonist (The Beat).
2: Kevin Garcia, 41, American bassist (Grandaddy), stroke; Péter Komlós (hu), 81, Hungarian violinist; Grigori Zhislin, 71, Russian violinist.
1: Katy Bødtger, 84, Danish singer; Bruce Hampton, 70, American musician (Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit) and actor (Sling Blade); Erkki Kurenniemi, 75, Finnish musician.
30: Belchior, 70, Brazilian singer and composer.
28: Joanna Brouk, 68, American electronic musician and composer; Zoe Realla, 32, American rapper, shot; John Shifflett, 64, American jazz musician, pancreatic cancer; Francis Travis, 95, American-born Swiss orchestral conductor.
27: Eduard Brunner, 77, Swiss clarinetist.
26: Endrik Wottrich, 52, German tenor.
25: Calep Emphrey Jr., 67, American drummer (B.B. King); Erik Martin, 81, German songwriter and editor (Muschelhaufen).
24: Agnes Giebel, 95, German soprano.
23: Jerry Adriani, 70, Brazilian singer and actor, cancer.