MAY 28, 2014 – Poet Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86 at her home in North Carolina. She was an American treasure, and brought the richness of word and poetry to millions, and will be forever remembered. JTMP joins in the days long mourning and remembrance of her that will surely go…
FEB 3, 2013 – The man who helped inspire the Deep Purple classic "Smoke on the Water" and was enshrined in one of the verses, Claude Nobs, or "Funky Claude" who was "running in and out, pulling kids out the ground", has died. The song sings about Funky Claude saving many concert goers after "some stupid with a flare gun" fired it into the ceiling of a casino during a Frank Zappa concert in 1971. The song went on to become a Rock and Roll Classic, and for many a budding guitarist (including myself) this was the first ever riff I ever played on the guitar.
Read more about Claude on his Wikipedia Bio here. Check out the studio version of "Smoke on the Water" below, play some air guitar, and crank it up! This is for you Funky Claude! (photo credit: CC/BrianMcMillen)
MAY 4, 2012 – Adam Yauch, from Beastie Boys fame, has lost his battle with cancer and has passed away at the young age of 47. Adam was born in Brooklyn, New York and taught himself to play bass guitar, and formed the Beastie Boys at age 17. He used his music for activism, supporting the Free Tibet movement and was a practicing Buddhist. He and his band the Beastie Boys, along with the Milarepa Fund, formed the Tibetan Freedom Concerts that ran from 1996 to 2001. He is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter, Tenzin. Watch Adam and the Beastie Boys perform at one of the Tibetan Freedom concerts below. (photo credit: Beastie Boys/MCA on Wiki)
MAR 29, 2012 – Legend and master banjo player Earl Scruggs, who was the father of the three-finger banjo picking style, passed away on March 28, 2012 at the age of 88. Born in 1924 in Flint Hill, N.C. he taught himself how to play with his 2 other brothers, including the guitar and autoharp. He started his musical career with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys in 1939.
IN 1948 Earl and guitar player Lester Flatt left the Bluegrass Boys and formed a duo, their peak being in 1962 with the theme to the Beverly Hillbillies that virtually everyone knows. Earl Scruggs was a progressive when it came to music and social issues, and wanted to bring in some popular sound, maybe even some saxophone; but Lester was very conservative and hated long-haired hippies, and it caused a rift and breakup of the duo in 1969.
Earl Scruggs became one of the very rare country/bluegrass musicians to ever add his musical activist voice to the anti-Vietnam War movement, performing his classic song "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam demonstration in October of 1969. Earl Scruggs later said in an interview of his performance, "I think the people in the South is just as concerned as the people that's walkin' the streets here today… I'm sincere about bringing our boys back home. I'm disgusted and in sorrow about the boys we've lost over there. And if I could see a good reason to continue, I wouldn't be here today."
Watch a video of the legendary Earl Scruggs performing his "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" with some friends below.