2016 Sucks, Part 318

2016 continued its campaign to destroy all music, taking Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell and Billy Miller from us over the course of one particularly harsh November week.

Although it was not announced until November 10th, Canadian singer/songwriter Cohen passed on Monday, Nov. 7th at his home in Los Angeles, aged 82. In a deeply moving message on his Facebook page, his son Adam Cohen wrote, “There’s so much I wish I could thank him for, just one last time. I’d thank him for the comfort he always provided, for the wisdom he dispensed, for the marathon conversations, for his dazzling wit and humor… And I’d thank him for music; first for his music which seduced me as a boy, then for his encouragement of my own music, and finally for the privilege of being able to make music with him.” Co-produced by Adam, Leonard Cohen’s 14th and final studio album, You Want It Darker, was released just over two weeks earlier; it is, without question, one of his all-time greatest. A review will run in Stomp and Stammer’s December issue.

Leon Russell, who did more cool shit than you are likely aware of, died in his sleep at home in Nashville on Sunday, Nov. 13th. He had been recovering from surgery following a heart attack in mid-July, and according to a statement from his wife, Jan Bridges, was planning to get back on the road in January. His last concert was July 10th in Nashville. Likely known to most more for his white flowing hair and beard and ever-present cowboy hat than his music, over the course of his lifetime Leon recorded over 35 albums, most of which sold diddly-squat. He had more success as a songwriter, penning “A Song for You” (The Carpenters) and “This Masquerade” (George Benson), among others. Also well known for assembling the band for Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour (and subsequent live album), what you may not know is that Russell was part of the notorious LA studio session gang known as “The Wrecking Crew,” worked with Phil Spector on his Wall of Sound team and played a major role in the house band for the TV show Shindig.

Lastly but not leastly, Norton Records co-founder, Kicks magazine co-founder and A-Bones singer Billy Miller passed away on Nov. 13th after an extended string of health setbacks. A tireless champion for raw rock ‘n’ roll, soul, R&B, rockabilly and more, Miller started the garage rock band A-Bones in 1984 with his soulmate, drummer/vocalist Miriam Linna, whom he’d met in the late ‘70s when she was drumming for The Cramps, and with whom he also started the amazing zine Kicks. In 1986 he and Linna established Norton Records, primarily a reissue label for obscure ‘50s and ‘60s rock/soul/R&B/rockabilly/jazz/blues and weirdo stuff, although they also occasionally released new material by current acts. Bottom line is, if you don’t have any Norton records in your collection, your record collection sucks. Billy was always a good friend to Stomp and Stammer, and our deepest condolences go out to Miriam, his family and many close friends.