B List: 10 Great Musicians We Lost in 2010

2. T. Lavitz (1956 – 2010)

Keyboardist T. Lavitz passed away unexpectedly, in his sleep, on the evening of October 7th. Lavitz spent time as a member of the Dixie Dregs, Widespread Panic and Jazz Is Dead over the course of his lengthy career. He also put out a number of solo albums and auditioned to fill Brent Mydland’s seat in the Grateful Dead in 1990.

3. Ben Keith (1937 – 2010)

Back in July, multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith died of unknown causes at the age of 73. Keith is best known for his work with Neil Young, which started back in 1972 with the recording of Harvest. Keith’s soaring pedal-steel style can be heard on many of Young’s album as well as recordings by the likes of The Band, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Warren Zevon.

4. Ronnie James Dio (1942 – 2010)

Iconic heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio lost a fight with stomach cancer in May. The Italian-American singer honed his chops with rockabilly bands in the ’60s before teaming up Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore to form Rainbow in the ’70s. Dio had the unenviable task of replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath and created two remarkable albums with the band before leaving to form his own group. After receiving praise, kinda, from Tenacious D in the form of the  song Dio, Ronnie rejoined his old Sabbath mates to embark on the successful Heaven and Hell world out.

5. Jay Reatard (1980 – 2010)

The youngest musician on this list by a long shot, garage rocker Jay Reatard passed away in his sleep on January 13th before his 30th birthday. Born into the world as Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., Reatard worked out his skills in the Memphis garage rock scene as a teenager before signing with Matador Records after the success of 2006’s Blood Visions.

6. Tom “T-Bone” Wolk (1951-2010)

Longtime Hall and Oates bassist Tom “T-Bone” Wolk died of a heart attack in February. Wolk performed with a who’s who of rock legends and spent six years as the four-stringer in the Saturday Night Live house band between 1986 and 1992. Yet, it was Wolk’s 30-year tenure as both bassist and musical director of Hall and Oates for which we’ll remember the well-respected musician.

7. Mark “Sparklehorse” Linkous (1962 – 2010)

Alt-blues maverick Mark Linkous, who recorded under the name Sparklehorse, committed suicide in March. Linkous was a singer/songwriter who never quite achieved mainstream success, but was lauded by his fellow musicians and by critics around the globe for his innovative style both as a performer and as a producer.

8. Alex Chilton (1950 – 2010)

Memphis musician Alex Chilton died in March after a long, productive career as a member of The Boxtops and Big Star and as a solo musician. Chilton first made his mark on rock as the 16-year-old gruff vocalist behind The Boxtops’ 1967 hit The Letter. He went on to front seminal power-pop band Big Star in the ’70s, who released three outstanding albums during that time, all of which made Rolling Stone’s list of the Best 500 Albums of All-Time.

9. Solomon Burke (1940 – 2010)

Philadelphia-bred soul singer Solomon Burke passed away at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in October of natural causes. Burke started out as a preacher singing gospel songs before signing with Atlantic Records, at which point he moved towards more secular music. Cry To Me, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and Got to Get You Off My Mind were among the ’60 soul classics that Burke originally recorded. Though he never quite reached the super-stardom of some of his peers from the same time period, Solomon finally received his due with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

10. Gregory Isaacs (1951 – 2010)

“The Cool Ruler” was a Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter who lost a battle with lung cancer in October. Isaacs is best known for his 1982 album Night Nurse and that LP’s title track, but that song and album was a small slice of the prolific musician’s impressive body of work.

Others we lost in 2010: P-Funk guitarist Gary Shider, Lynyrd Skynyrd namesake Leonard Skinner, archivist/taper Dave Nolan and photographer Jim Marshall

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11 Responses

  1. We also lost Doug Feiger of The Knack. Great power pop band and My Sharona will continue to blare from I-Pods and stereos long after we’re gone…

  2. Scott,

    Thanks for mentioning Dave Nolan in this post. He impact on the NYC music scene for the last 20+ years is still being felt. We all lost a great friend. Way too young.

  3. Putting a list like this has to be very hard if limiting it to ten. The not inclusion of Jim Dickinson seems wrong. The issue obviously would be to decide of the ten included, which one to remove.

  4. Just yesterday we lost drummer Bill Maddox, who was murdered during a home invasion attempt at his Austin, TX residence. Maddox, a long time fixture in the Austin music scene was the original drummer in Eric Johnson’s Electro Magnets band.

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