Famous Musicians Who Died This Week – Known for his folk-pop hits, the musician continued to make hits like If You Could Read My Mind and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in his later years.
Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot, best known for folk-pop hits such as If You Could Read My Mind and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, has died aged 84, his family has announced.
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Called a “rare talent” by Bob Dylan, dozens of artists have covered Lightfoot’s work, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Anne Murray, Jane’s Addiction and Sarah McLachlan.
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Most of his songs were autobiographical. Edmund Fitzgerald’s 1975 poem The Wreck tells the story of the wreck of an ore ship on the Great Lakes, and the 1966 Canadian Railway Trilogy chronicles the construction of the railway.
“I write songs about where I am and where I’m from,” he said. “I take situations and write songs about them.”
Often described as a poetic storyteller, Lightfoot remained aware of his cultural influence. It was a role he took seriously.
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“I just like to stay there and be part of the totem pole and take care of the responsibilities that I’ve acquired over the years,” he said in a 2001 interview.
Lightfoot began singing in his church choir and dreamed of becoming a jazz musician. At age 13, he won a talent contest at the Kiwanis Music Festival held at Massey Hall in Toronto.
“I remember the thrill of being in front of a crowd,” Lightfoot said in a 2018 interview. “It was a step for me.”
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He played his first guitar in 1956 and started writing songs in the following months.
At the age of 18, he went to the USA to study music for a year. But life in Hollywood was not good and it wasn’t long before Lightfoot returned to Canada. He vowed to move to Toronto to pursue his musical ambitions, taking every job available, including a position at a bank.
By 1964, he had gained positive word of mouth in the city and audiences began to gather in ever-increasing numbers. The following year, Lightfoot’s song I’m Not Sayin’ became a hit in Canada, helping to spread his name in the US.
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As the folk music boom ended in the late 1960s, Lightfoot was already transitioning into pop. In 1971, he made his first Billboard chart appearance with If You Could Read My Mind. It reached number 5 and spawned several covers.
Lightfoot’s fame came in the mid-1970s when his single and album Sundown reached number one on the Billboard charts, his first and only.
Lightfoot suffered a number of health problems throughout his career, including Bell’s palsy, alcoholism and a ruptured gastric artery that left him in a coma for six weeks in 2002.
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In 1986, he was inducted into the Canadian Recording Industry Hall of Fame, now the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He received the Governor General’s Award in 1997 and was inducted into Canada’s Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Death is a sad but inevitable reality, and while we mourned the loss of several key figures in the rock and metal community in 2022, they can also celebrate their lasting legacies.
Perhaps most notably, the death of Foo Fighter drummer Taylor Hawkins was felt around the world and sparked two massive tribute concerts. The death of rock superstar Meat Loaf also rocked the country earlier this year. But of those who died in 2022, not all were performers.
Michael Lang, founder and promoter of the Woodstock Music Festival, died on January 8 of a rare illness. Although the original Woodstock was a logistical disaster and a money pit, the show’s image softened over time as its place in musical and cultural history became more important.
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The man behind Metallica also died in early 2022. Johnny Z, the founder of Megaforce Records, was the man who saw the potential of thrash from a flea market demo tape. Teammates were understandably devastated to hear the news. Metalheads owe a lot to Johnny Z.
Read on for other notable deaths in the world of rock and metal in 2022. And long may your favorite rocker live and prosper. Jazz artist and host Ramsey Lewis warms up before taping the Jazz Legends with Ramsey Lewis show in 2005. Photo: Charles Reck Arbogast/AP
The musician had three Grammy awards, seven gold records, and later hosted his own radio and television shows.
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Ramsey Lewis, the legendary jazz pianist whose music began with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and made him one of the most successful jazz musicians in the country over a 60-year career that entertained fans, has died. He was 87 years old.
Lewis is respected in jazz circles for his 1960s hits such as The In Crowd, Hang on Sloopy and Wade in the Water. He won three Grammy Awards and seven gold records. The trio’s first album in 1956 was Ramsay Lewis and the Gentlemen of Swing.
“Most people say when they met dad he was a class act.” He was like that until his last breath.’
Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian Singer Songwriter, Dies Aged 84
“Life is lonely, and it goes on,” Lewis said, sitting at the dining room table of his downtown Chicago home. “I know when I put my hands on the piano, it will flow.”
Lewis first took piano lessons at the age of four. He spent his early days in Chicago using his gospel and classical roots to create his own style of jazz in many neighborhoods that hired young jazz musicians.
“It gave us a lot of opportunities to test our ideas and learn what it’s like to go in front of an audience,” Lewis said of being named a 2007 National Endowment for the Jazz Arts Master. He received the award from pianist mentor and fellow jazz master Billy Taylor.
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During his career, Lewis performed with music stars such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Al Jaro and Pat Metheny. Lewis has more than 80 albums to his credit and has toured the world, including President Bill Clinton performing for Brazilian President Fernando Henrique at a 1995 state dinner.
The native of Chicago began to compose large musical works later in his career. His first was an eight-movement piece for the Chicago Ballet’s Joffrey. He also paid tribute to President Abraham Lincoln – Proclamation of Hope: A Symphonic Poem by Ramsey Lewis. Lewis also hosted radio shows in the 1990s and 2000s, including the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on VNUA-FM and the syndicated Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis.
The show’s creators said it was the first time in 40 years that jazz has appeared weekly on network television. Jazz greats and new people appeared there.
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Lewis also spent time working for charities that brought music to young people and was working on a memoir.
In addition to his son, Lewis is survived by his wife Janet; daughters Denise Jeffries and Dawn Allain; two other sons, Kendall Kelly Lewis and Fraine Lewis; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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