In Memoriam|

The Ortiz family has experienced a terrible tragedy this week. My sister’s husband of 26 years, Shawn McNary, passed away suddenly. He was an incredibly compassionate man, loving father, and brilliant musician. I can barely remember a time when he wasn’t part of our family. WAY back when I owned a rock magazine, he was one of our advertisers, since he owned a large music school. After many months of picking up his ad copy and checks from the school, I finally realized that I should introduce him to my sister. They fell in love immediately and married soon after. He’s been my brother-in-law ever since, and was literally the best father I have ever seen any man be. I can’t even imagine how my sister and their daughters will get through this. I will be going home to take care of them immediately, so I will be off the grid for a while. So take care of each other and yourselves, people. Keep your loved ones close and never forget to tell them how much you love them, because life can change on a dime.

RIP, Shawn McNary – my brother. There are so many things I wish I could say to you. ~ Gina Jet Ortiz on Facebook, 11/09/14

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Henry Lee Jackson (January 11, 1957 – November 11, 2014), known by his stage name, Big Bank Hank, was an American old school rapper and manager. Also known as Imp the Dimp, he was a member of the trio The Sugarhill Gang, the first hip hop act to have a hit with the cross-over single “Rapper’s Delight” in the pop music charts in 1979. He contributed to many documentaries based on the rap music industry

Hank was born as Henry Lee Jackson in the Bronx, New York City. He won several championships in wrestling at Bronx Community College, where he graduated with an A.S. degree in oceanography. Unable to attain a position in oceanography, he worked the doors of a Bronx nightclub called The Sparkle, where he became a music manager for Grandmaster Caz and his group The Mighty Force MC’s. While working at a pizzeria he did his job so well that when the owner of the shop expanded his business to Englewood, New Jersey, he brought Hank over to head the Crispy Crust store. While managing for a local hip hop group, the Cold Crush Brothers, Hank was discovered by Sylvia Robinson. She was out trying to find an act for the new hip-hop trend she had discovered through her son and she heard Hank rapping some of the Cold Crush Brothers’ rhymes. When Robinson asked him to join the group she was forming, Hank went to Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers for rhymes. Caz gladly gave him his notebook, hoping to eventually get something in return. Hank was 22 years old at the time that the Sugarhill Gang’s self-titled album was released.

Hank’s act was known for his competition with the comic book superhero Superman. His verse depicts him meeting Lois Lane and convincing her to drop her boyfriend, Superman. Says Hank: “He’s a fairy, I do suppose, flying through the air in pantyhose…He can’t satisfy you with his little worm, but I can bust you out with my super sperm”. In his three sections of the song, Hank uses his well-known chant: “Ho-tel, Mo-tel, what you gonna do today (say what)/I’m gonna get a fly girl, gonna get some spank n’ drive off in a def O.J.” (An “O.J.” refers to a luxury American car, such as a Lincoln Continental. The reference is from popular TV commercials of the 1970s where NFL running back O. J. Simpson was the spokesman for Hertz rental cars.) In the mid-to-late 2000s, the term “Big Bank Hank” was coined meaning a guy who keeps a lot of money in his pocket.

A resident of Tenafly, New Jersey, Hank died at the age of 57 at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in nearby Englewood on November 11, 2014, from kidney complications due to cancer.

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Rick (“Rick the Bass Player”) Rosas (September 10, 1949 – November 6, 2014) was an American musician, and one of the most sought after studio session musicians in Los Angeles. He played with Neil Young, Joe Walsh, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Rivers, Ron Wood, Etta James, and the short-lived reunion of the Buffalo Springfield, among others. He most recently performed as bass player with The Flash in Jonathan Demme’s movie Ricki and The Flash. The band was composed of guitarist Rick Springfield, drummer Joe Vitale and keyboardist Bernie Worrell, backing up Meryl Streep, as “Ricki,” on vocals and guitar.

Rosas was born in West Los Angeles, California to Anne & Bob Rosas, who were originally from Tempe, Arizona. Growing up in East Los Angeles, he listened to Elvis, the Everly Brothers & watched the country swing music of Spade Cooley on TV. His first band was Mark & the Escorts, an East L.A. that began by playing surf instrumentals. The three core members, Mark Guerrero, Rick Rosas, and Ernie Hernandez, eventually recorded an album for A&M Records in the early 1970s, as members of a rock band called Tango.

He met Joe Walsh through drummer Joe Vitale, in the early 80s and played on Walsh’s 1985 album, The Confessor. Rosas also joined Walsh for a short-lived stint in Australia as a member of the Creatures from America, that also featured Waddy Wachtel on guitar and Richard Harvey on drums. He also toured with Dan Fogelberg in 1985. In December of 1986, the Walsh band joined Albert Collins and Etta James for the a Jazzvisions taping called “Jump the Blues Away.”

While playing in Walsh’s touring band, Rick met Neil Young at the Farm Aid III benefit. Young was impressed with the bass player’s musical skill as well as his soft-spoken, laid back manner, and invited him to join his new horn-driven big band, the Bluenotes.

With this band, Young the album, This Note’s For You. Rosas appeared in the video of the title track that was initially banned by MTV. When it became a hit on other music video outlets, MTV reversed itself and put the video in rotation. It won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Video of the Year for 1989.

After disbanding the Bluenotes, Young retained Rosas for a power group that recorded an EP, Eldorado. It was only released in Japan and Australia, to coincide with their Young & the Restless Far East Tour in early 1989. Rosas played a throbbing bass line on the rocker, “Rockin’ in the Free World” which appeared on 1989’s Freedom.

Rosas reunited with Joe Walsh in 1989 for an MTV Unplugged taping with Dr. John and played on Walsh’s 1991 Ordinary Average Guy and 1992 Songs for a Dying Planet. Young invited Rosas to play on Prairie Wind in 2005. He also appeared in the album-release concert movie filmed at the Grand Ole Opry House, Heart of Gold.  He would play on Young’s next album, Living with War and the subsequent 2006 “Freedom of Speech” tour with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, that resulted in the film, “’CSNY/Déjà Vu” and concert album, Déjà Vu Live.

Rosas played on Young’s next album, Chrome Dreams II which finally saw the release of the 1988 Bluenotes track “Ordinary People.” He also provided backing vocals for the track “Dirty Old Man.” He toured with Young’s Electric Band throughout America, Europe, and Asia for nearly three years, playing material from nearly every phase of Young’s catalogue. A concert film, Neil Young Trunk Show, directed by Jonathan Demme, captured a 2007 performance in Philadelphia. In one scene Young praises Rosas’ musical abilities, “Rick can play anything!” Another Young album, Fork in the Road was recorded during the tour, which ended with a Hyde Park performance in London with Paul McCartney joining Young onstage for a cover of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”.

A year later Young invited Rosas to participate in the reunion of the Buffalo Springfield at that year’s Bridge Concert. He and drummer Joe Vitale joined the remaining original members Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay (Denver’s own!). A six show mini-tour followed in June 2011 with concerts in Oakland, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and the Bonnaroo music festival but a planned fall tour was cancelled. While touring with Pegi Young & the Survivors, he got the call from Neil Young to fill in for Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot, who had suffered a mild stroke a few weeks before their 2014 European Tour, making Rosas the only bassist to have played with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Crazy Horse.

Rosas stayed busy as a session player and he had been the bassist for the Waddy Wachtel Band since 2000.

Rosas was married twice. He was an accomplished cook, having studied under chef Ken Frank at the Wolfgang Puck/Patrick Terrell Ma Maison School of Cooking from 1983-1985.

Rosas died on November 6, 2014, in Los Angeles, California, of lung disease. He was 65.

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Big Paybacc, a/k/a Habeeb Ameer Zekajj (died November 6, 2014) was an American rapper.

In 2011 he released the song “Gangster Love” which “glamorized the gang culture” whose YouTube video had more than 300,000 views.

In November of 2014, at the age of 38, he died of gunshot wounds after being attacked in a McDonald’s fast food restaurant in Palmdale, California. He was part of the Whitsett Avenue Gangstas of Los Angeles and “reportedly had three children.”

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Manitas de Plata (born Ricardo Baliardo; 7 August 1921 – 5 November 2014) was a French flamenco guitarist. Despite achieving worldwide fame, he was known for disrespecting certain rhythmic rules (compás) that are traditional in flamenco.


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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…

November 2014
11: Big Bank Hank, 58, American rapper (The Sugarhill Gang), kidney complications of cancer.

9: Jonathan Athon, 32, American bassist (Black Tusk), injuries sustained in a traffic collision.

6: Big Paybacc, 38, American rapper, shot; Maggie Boyle, 57, English folk singer; Rick Rosas, 65, American session musician (Etta James, Joe Walsh, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).

5: Manitas de Plata, 93, French flamenco guitarist.

3: Augusto Martelli, 74, Italian composer (Il dio serpente), conductor, arranger and television personality.


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