As it seems to happen every year, 2015 saw the rock world lose some very important people, a few who obviously have meant a lot to not only our readers but also the SoT staff as well. As we begin 2016, I wanted to pay a little tribute to some of our fallen heroes of the last 12 months. And, to that thing we call 'cancer', you suck...
Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister- the former Hawkwind bassist got his real start playing space rock, but it wasn't until he left that band and started his own outfit, Motorhead, that his career really took off. One of the originators of what eventually morphed into speed/thrash metal, Motorhead, along with Venom, Mercyful Fate, and Celtic Frost, basically also created what we now know as extreme metal. Combining furious, at times bluesy guitar riffing, bombastic bass grooves, and frantic drumming, Motorhead's music was relentless, filthy, heavy, and loud. Long one of the ambassadors of metal, Lemmy's fast & hard lifestyle eventually caught up to him, but he toured till the very end, living up to his iconic status. He will be greatly missed, and will do down in history as one of the most recognizable and unique figures the genre has ever seen.
Chris Squire-founder and bass virtuoso of progressive rock legends Yes, Chris was always larger than life and the always constant member of the band throughout their long and storied career. Combining staggering chops on the bass with soaring backing vocals and genuine songwriting skills, Squire was the total package and a true prog rock icon. Though the band is continuing on without him, he can never be replaced. A truly beloved figure.
John Tout-majestic keyboard player of pioneering art rock band Renaissance passed away early in 2015 from lung failure. His work on all those classic Renaissance albums cannot be overlooked, especially his gorgeous piano melodies, which still today remain as some of the best the prog genre has ever seen.
Guy LeBlanc- founding member of veteran Canadian prog act Nathan Mahl and also keyboard player with one of the later incarnations of the legendary Camel, LeBlanc was not only a great player but a really nice guy as well, leaving this world way too early at age 54 from cancer. He was also my first ever interview when I started writing about prog and metal.
AJ Pero- longtime drummer for metal act Twisted Sister, the powerful Pero passed away in his sleep at the age of 55 while on the tour bus with his other band Adrenaline Mob. Always one of those guys that everyone seems to always have a good thing to say about, AJ is deeply missed by many.
Andy Fraser- as a founding member & bassist with Free, Fraser took his musical & writing skills to super-stardom alongside Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, and Paul Kossoff. Andy left us at age 62 after a lengthy battle with both AIDS and cancer. His work with Free is legendary.
Edgar Froese- legendary member of seminal electronic act Tangerine Dream, Froese is seen as a true pioneer to legions of music lovers. As part of a band who basically started a whole movement, he stayed with TD throughout their entire history and until his death at age 70.
B.B. King- easily one of the most influential guitar players of the last 60 years, King was thrilling audiences almost up to the end of his life. He was 89 years old.
Daevid Allen-the lovable pixie from Gong succumbed to cancer earlier this year at the age of 77. His work with that band, along with an early incarnation of Soft Machine, is legendary in the world of prog & space rock.
John Garner-as the lead singer of early proto-metal act Sir Lord Baltimore, Garner and his bandmates created some of the heaviest sounds to come out of the period from 1969-1971. Though their time was fleeting, their legacy on the world of heavy music will always be there.
Scott Weiland-say what you want about the long troubled vocalist, but he was a part of some very popular recordings and tours with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. In the end, his endless battles with addictions took his life, but he will always remain one of noteworthy figures that came out of the '90s rock scene.
Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor-original drummer for Motorhead, Phil and Lemmy are now jamming together once again somewhere else. His reckless, powerful from style was the perfect fit for those early, raucous Motorhead albums.
Raul Rekow- percussionist with Santana for over 30 years, Raul was the backbone of this legendary band until cancer took his life recently at the young age of 61.
Cory Wells-lead singer of Three Dog Night, who sang on many of the bands big hits in the late '60s and early '70s. He was 74.
Jimmy Greenspoon- keyboard player of Three Dog Night, Jimmy played on all the bands classic material from the golden era. He also died of cancer, at age 67.
Gail Zappa-widow of the legendary Frank Zappa, Gail also tragically passed away from cancer this year at the age of 70. Her work on the Zappa Family Trust since Frank's passing has done wonders to preserve his musical legacy.
Gary Richrath- original REO Speedwagon guitarist passed away this year at the age of 65. His unique style was a huge part of all those early REO albums, and his songwriting alongside Kevin Cronin helped propel the band to enormous success in the '80s.
Allan Fryer-former lead vocalist for semi-popular '80s metal act Heaven, Fryer also auditioned to replace the late Bon Scott in AC/DC. Heaven had a few successful albums and toured with many of the popular metal acts of that decade.
Craig Gruber-his place in hard rock/metal history is forever cemented thanks to his time spent with both Elf and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Cancer took his life at the young age of 63.
Bruce Crump-the Southern rock world continues to lose members at an alarming pace, and this year, Crump, the former drummer of Molly Hatchet, left us at 57. He appeared on all the popular Hatchet albums released in the '80s.
Mike Porcaro- the horrible disease ALS took the life of veteran Toto bassist Porcaro, who had to retire from the band in 2007. He joins his brother Jeff, who left this world in 1992.
Chris Rainbow-vocalist who worked with the Alan Parson Project, Camel, and Jon Anderson, passed away in February at the age of 68.
Mats Olausson- many will remember Olausson as the former keyboard player for guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, as he played with the Swede for the better part of the 1990s. Left us way too early at 54.
Sam Andrew-as founding member and guitarist of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Sam was one of the people responsible for giving Janis Joplin her first break in the music business, as both she and the band skyrocketed after their initial alliance. He died earlier this year of a heart attack at age 73.
RIP to all...their music will forever live on!