The entertainment world had been keeping their ears open since the folks at TMZ reported earlier this week that legendary singer Aretha Franklin was in dire condition and that her passing was only a matter of time. It was just a short while ago that this news became true as the Queen Of Soul has died at age 76 of cancer. There was no other voice like Aretha’s and we had to step outside of our normal Heavy Music zone to take off our hats and whisper a little prayer.
According to the reports that I have read and watched over the week, Aretha’s cancer had really taken its toll on her these last few days and that the doctors had called in all of her closest relatives to be around her for the time that was coming soon. Though I will not line out all the details of Aretha’s life since all of those storied details can be found on her Wikipedia entry. I will say however that she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and has sold in excess of 75 million records over the course of her career. Amazing. The Heaven’s now have one of history’s greatest singers in their command and the choirs up in that great beyond will surely be louder and reaching more hearts than ever before. I never managed to see Aretha in concert but saw plenty of video footage. She must have been something else to experience live. Did you ever catch her? Please chime in with your comments about shows or albums that you enjoyed most as I’d love to hear them. Thank you for the decades of inspiring music Aretha, may you Rest In Peace.
Good morning my dear comic book aficiondos, it’s with great sadness that I am posting these words very early to your Internet streams but the industry has lost another great as the legendary Steve Ditko has passed away. Ditko was 90 years of age and it is believed to have been a heart attack. He was found unresponsive in his apartment several days ago but the news only began circulating last night. Ditko was the co-creator of the Amazing Spider-Man who first appeared in “Amazing Fantasy” #15 and Doctor Strange whose first appearance was in “Strange Tales” #110 Both characters began their eventually historic adventures back in 1963. Stan Lee was the other side of this co-creative coin in case you didn’t already know that. I’ve snagged the two incredible issues down below for you.
I had just gotten home to my apartment after a rousing and quite fun show by the Dropkick Murphy’s last night when my mobile started buzzing with texts from friends with news that I hated to read on my screen. It appeared that influential Heavy Metal drummer Vinnie Paul had died. The news was first broadcast across the Official Pantera Facebook Page (of which Vinnie was a founding member) and this statement has been embedded for you below the photo.
It’s once again with great sadness that I must share the news about another of our Heavy Metal stalwarts having passed with guitarist Ralph Santolla. Recently, his personal Facebook profile found the musician noting that he was not feeling well and not long after he would suffer a heart attack and soon fall into a coma. Despite the efforts to save him, the doctors found there was no promising change or hope of recovery and he was taken off of life support late Wednesday evening and would leave us at the age of 51. Such a shame.
Santolla was most famously known as one of the axe wielders in some incredible acts like Obituary, Iced Earth and Deicide. At one point in his career he kept up pace with the legendary Chuck Schuldiner in Death’s live shows but he didn’t record anything with them sadly. Ralph worked on a number of other projects that you can learn more about in his Wikipedia entry down below. One of them was a solo effort that his family maintains will see the light of day posthumously as soon as its possible to be addressed. A family member mentioned online that Ralph was an organ donor and that should some musical ability or razor sharp sarcasm come into play in someone’s life that it was likely due to Ralph’s presence with them. At least during this sad time that some other people can have a chance on a longer life. More should consider being a donor because its not like we need the stuff anymore once we pass on.
I met Ralph several times over the years thanks to the shows I was covering and sharing some mutual friends. He was a talented and interesting person for sure and the photos in this memorial reflection all feature Ralph from some Obituary tours that I covered back around 2007-2009. Two of these shows took place at the now shuttered B.B. King Blues Club while the other was at the Gramercy Theatre which might have been called The Blender Theatre at the time. I didn’t remember seeing him in Deicide or Iced Earth but I could be wrong since those shows are so long ago in my memory at this point. Ralph was truly an excellent player that I think we only ever got to see a small part of since his talents were far deeper than only the Heavy Metal stuff that so many of us bore witness to.
Though there were many news outlets reporting on his passing days before, we opted to wait until the news was 100% final out of proper respect. We wish his family, friends and numerous band mates over the years the deepest of condolences during this sad time. Thank you Ralph for giving us some incendiary riffs for many years. May you Rest In Peace. We welcome fans of the musician to add their own reflections down below in the comments.
Last night, the legendary Blues artist Buddy Guy headlined the stages of the B.B. King Blues Club for their final event. Yes my friends, as we’ve noted in a previous post, the illustrious Times Square venue has closed its doors. We’ve already noted how a skyrocketing rent was the root cause and this is something we are hearing in NYC all the frigging time nowadays and its becoming boring. The greed of the regions property owners are making all of the things that make our city special go away. It sucks. Now as a scribe whose spent a considerable amount of time supporting shows in this venue for the past thirteen years, I had been on a mission this afternoon to snap a shot of the “Thank You” message that a friend showed me was on the marquee last night. After attending the Ghost press conference, I headed uptown to Times Square and I was left speechless by what I saw when I reached my destination.
Sadly, B.B. King’s no longer even existed by the time that I got there and all of the marquee signage was gone along with the neon and the photos that adorned it among numerous other lights for all of Times Square to see. Staff was zipping in and out with stuff and when I asked someone why this was so quick an occurrence they said that they needed to be out by tomorrow (Tuesday). Clearly the thrill was gone and I will miss this place very much. I still have to do a massive compilation of my very favorite performances here for you to enjoy but its taking me a little longer than I expected it to since there are quite a few. In my announcement about the closing, I had miscalculated my contests for the place and there was only “80” of them and not “92” as I previously reported. I did still put over “600” fans into the shows in the place so that is all that matters to me.
The loss of this venue also breaks some of the pre-gaming rituals that my friends and I would have. Generally, we would find ourselves assembling and catching up at the nearby Smith’s Bar and then heading over once all had joined in and the show was relatively close to starting. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve covered shows here and how many different bands all get added up but will say its at least “200” on the show review scale and probably around “600” for individual bands. Though its been said that there is interest in finding another location, one has to wonder if there will there even be time to focus on that with the brand new Sony Hall having absorbed most of their programming while some other shows have been taken over to the Highline Ballroom. I’m sure going to miss this place and thank all of the staff who helped me to do my thing for so many years in these confines. Eternal thanks for that matter.
Hopefully they hang this somewhere special. Perhaps the Hard Rock Cafe should look into this along with the smaller neon logo we just shared above.
No one appearing tonight. No one coming soon. Sadness.
To learn more about the partnership between the Blue Note Media Group and Sony Music please click HERE to access the post that we shared about the news.