Lonnie Mack -- Another artist I've been exploring over the past five years, Lonnie seems to have been somewhat under appreciated but no doubt a great influence on many players (including Stevie Ray Vaughan!). The track I chose for the playlist is from one of his mid 80s albums on Alligator Records which simply smokes! His early albums on Elektra Records are real good. Actually, I've yet to hear a bad recording from this fine fine artist.
Billy Paul -- Everyone remembers Billy from his sexy early 70s soul ballad about a love affair called "Me & Mrs. Jones." But that is not the song I've chosen for a remembrance moment. Instead, I've included his surprising 1976 take on Paul McCartney's "Let 'Em In" which I discovered a couple of years ago when I picked up the album of the same name. I like how he expands on the theme with additional memories of legends past than Macca sang about. It felt only appropriate to include this. Maybe someone will soon perform a new version including Billy on the list.
Prince -- Wow. Prince. What more is there to say? Gone way way way too soon. While I was almost inclined to put in a track from his seminal album Sign of the Times -- arguably his finest album overall -- I included a fave tune from another favorite recording of his which, oddly enough, many people seem to overlook, Around The World In A Day. "Pop Life" is such a great tune and totally what was not expected from Prince at the time it came out. I even saw Elvis Costello perform this song once. Maybe Elvis will finally get around to recording this song now (Prince wouldn't allow it back in the day).
Greg Lake and Keith Emerson -- Perhaps its unfair to include one song for both artists but in many ways they were so artistically entwined this entry made some sense... especially when I found this lovely live version of their early song "Take A Pebble" from a live concert in Switzerland circa 1970! It showcases the artistry of Lake as a singer and guitarist as well as the gorgeous grandeur and interplay of Emerson's majestic piano playing.
George Martin -- Beatles producer George Martin really needs no introduction, but it is good to call out the fact that his artistry was delivered not only through his productions, but also via his compositions and arrangements. Just check out the gorgeous string arrangements he wrote for The Beatles / Cirque Du Soleil Love soundtrack, which was added to a demo by George Harrison for his classic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The result: a tear jerker for the ages.
Pete Zorn -- I don't know a lot about Pete Zorn's own music but anyone who played bass on Richard & Linda Thompson's landmark album Shoot Out The Lights -- and toured for many years in Thompson's live band -- has to have had something very special going on. Zorn also had played with Gerry Rafferty, Steeleye Span, Albion Band and others. No doubt, he will be missed.
Watch for part two of this fond look back on some of the artists we lost in 2016.