In Memoriam|

Composer John Leonard Morris – wrote songs for filmmakers Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder

Wild Bill on Fb, 1/26/18: In tribute to my friend Jimi Jo Rush. Bassist /vocalist for the band “Papa Doo Run Run” who passed away yesterday night. He’s singing lead on the left in front of around 60.000 fans. Jan and Dean in this clip too. Not too many people are in the same band for 50 years! Jan and Dean were in the band from 1975-1981, he was in the movie “Dead Man’s Curve” about Jan and Dean on TV as well. He was a good friend and man. I’d see him at various concerts around the country and almost every year in Santa Cruz. I’ll miss you, Jim Rush.
May he Rest In Peace.

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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…

January 2018

31: Leah LaBelle, 31, Canadian-born American singer (American Idol), traffic collision.

Leah LaBelle Vladowski (September 8, 1986 – January 31, 2018), known professionally as Leah LaBelle, was a Canadian-born American R&B singer, signed to Epic Records/So So Def Recordings. LaBelle was the twelfth place finalist on the third season of American Idol, as the wild card selection of Paula Abdul. She was recording her debut studio album. She also gained popularity and a large following by posting cover videos on YouTube, for several years.


30: Mark Salling, 35, American actor (Glee) and musician, suicide by hanging.

Mark Wayne Salling (August 17, 1982 – January 30, 2018) was an American actor and musician. He was known for his role as Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the television series Glee.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Salling studied at the Los Angeles College of Music before working as a guitar teacher. He also worked as an occasional actor, appearing in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996) and The Graveyard (2006) before gaining a recurring role in Glee in 2008. Initially a regular character, from the fifth season he was reduced to a recurring guest star role. On the show, he soloed and dueted on cover versions of various songs. Pursuing a music career, he established his own label, Pipe Dreams Records, in partnership with Fontana Distribution. On this label he released an album, Pipe Dreams, in 2010.

In January 2013, Salling was accused of sexual battery but settled with his accuser out of court. In December 2015, he was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. Salling faced between four and seven years imprisonment after pleading guilty, but died of suicide prior to his sentencing.

29: Asmund Bjørken, 84, Norwegian jazz musician; Eddie Shaw, 80, American blues saxophonist, arranger and bandleader (Howlin’ Wolf).

Eddie Shaw, 80, (March 20, 1937 – January 29, 2018) was an American Chicago blues tenor saxophonist, arranger and bandleader. He led Howlin’ Wolf’s band, the Wolf Gang, from 1972, both before Wolf’s death in 1976 and subsequently.

Shaw was born in Stringtown, Mississippi. In his teenage years, Shaw played tenor saxophone with local blues musicians, such as Little Milton and Willie Love. At the age of 14, he played in a jam session in Greenville, Mississippi, with Ike Turner’s band. At a gig in Itta Bena, Mississippi, when the then 20-year-old Shaw performed, Muddy Waters invited him to join his Chicago-based band.

In Waters’s band, Shaw divided the tenor saxophone position with A.C. Reed. In 1972 he joined Howlin’ Wolf, leading his band, the Wolf Gang, and writing half the songs on The Back Door Wolf (1973). After the singer’s death in 1976 he took over the band and its residency at the 1815 Club, renamed Eddie’s Place. Shaw led the band on Living Chicago Blues Vol. 1 and Have Blues – Will Travel (1980) and recorded albums with different backing for Isabel Records, Rooster Blues, and Wolf Records.

Shaw’s own recording career started in the late 1970s, with an appearance on the Alligator Records anthology Living Chicago Blues (1978) and his own LPs for Evidence and Rooster Blues, and more recent discs for Rooster Blues (In the Land of the Crossroads) and Wolf (Home Alone).

Shaw’s many contributions to the blues included arranging tracks for The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions (which featured Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr and others) and performing with blues notables, including Hound Dog Taylor, Freddie King, Otis Rush and Magic Sam (on his Black Magic album).

In 2013 and 2014, Shaw won the Blues Music Award in the category Instrumentalist – Horn. May 3 is Eddie Shaw Day in Chicago, by proclamation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

28: Neil Harris, 63, British musician (Sham 69), cancer; Coco Schumann, 93, German jazz musician.

27: Grant Fell, 56, New Zealand bassist (Headless Chickens), cancer; David Zard, 75, Italian record producer.

26: Buzz Clifford, 76, American singer (“Baby Sittin’ Boogie”) and songwriter, complications of influenza; Floyd Miles, 74, American blues musician and singer; Francisco Savín, 88, Mexican conductor and composer (Xalapa Symphony Orchestra); Igor Zhukov, 81, Russian pianist.

25: Tommy Banks, 81, Canadian jazz pianist, composer and politician, Senator (2000–2011), Juno winner (1979), leukemia; Sabar Koti, 58, Indian singer; John Morris, 91, American film composer (The Elephant Man, Blazing Saddles, Dirty Dancing), respiratory infection; Lyudmila Senchina, 67, Russian singer; Cliff White, 72, British music journalist, cardiac arrest.

John Leonard Morris (October 18, 1926 – January 25, 2018) was an American film, television and Broadway composer, dance arranger, conductor, and trained concert pianist. He collaborated with filmmakers Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.

In the 1950s through the 1970s, Morris helped to compose incidental music and dance numbers for a number of Broadway productions, including Wildcat (1960), Hot Spot (1963), Baker Street (1965), Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), and Hamlet (1975). He had written and produced his own musical, A Time for Singing, released in 1966.

Morris worked with Mel Brooks, starting with Brooks’ first film The Producers. Prior to this, the two had worked together on two musicals, Shinbone Alley (1957) and All-American (1962). Morris did the original arrangement for Springtime for Hitler and the rest of the film’s underscore. Morris continued to work with Brooks on twenty of his films, including Blazing Saddles (for which he received a co-writing credit Oscar nomination with Brooks for the film’s opening song), Young Frankenstein (for which he scored its famous “Transylvanian Lullaby”), and The Elephant Man (for which he was nominated for a Grammy for its score). Only two of Brooks’ films did not feature Morris’ music: Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It were both composed by Hummie Mann. In an interview with Film Score Monthly, Brooks explained that Morris couldn’t do the music for Men in Tights or Dead and Loving It due to other commitments.

Morris also helped to score films of actors that worked under Brooks when they went off to produce their own films. These included Gene Wilder’s The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, The World’s Greatest Lover, The Woman in Red and Haunted Honeymoon, and Marty Feldman’s The Last Remake of Beau Geste and In God We Trust. Morris further composed the score for a number of other films and televisions shows, including the theme for The French Chef and Coach. He won a Daytime Emmy for his score for the TV miniseries The Tap Dance Kid.

He was married to Francesca Bosetti, and had two children: his son Evan died in 2014 and daughter Bronwen. Morris died on January 25, 2018 in his Red Hook, New York home following complications from a respiratory infection at the age of 91. He was survived by his wife, his daughter, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Brooks said on Morris’ death “He was my emotional right arm. Music tells you what to feel and he knew what I wanted you to feel. He composed it and made it happen.”


24: Renaud Gagneux, 70, French composer; Aleksandrs Kublinskis, 81, Latvian composer; Mark E. Smith, 60, English singer and songwriter (The Fall).


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