Rainer Bloss, Electronic Music Keyboardist

“Lovely Hitchhiker” Video, 1986

Rainer Bloss was a German electronic music keyboard player who released a number of albums with composer Klaus Schulze in the 1980s.

Rainer Bloss and Klaus Schulze, Gent, Belgium, 1982

The duo produced Audentity (1983), Aprhica (1984) and three versions of Drive Inn (1984, 1986, 1998), as well as a live album, Dziekuje Poland Live ’83.

“PanAmericana” from Drive Inn 2

It’s hard to find much on Bloss, including his actual birthdate (1946-December 10, 2015). Schulze is much better known, having been part of the band Tangerine Dream and the supergroup Go with Steve Windwood.

Bonnie Lou, Country Yodeler and Rockabilly Singer

“Tennessee Wig Walk,” 1953

Bonnie Lou (aka Sally Carson, Mary Kath) learned to yodel from her Swiss grandmother while growing up on an Illinois farm. She took up guitar at age 11 and by the time she was a teenager was appearing on country radio in Peoria.

“Lonesome Day” with Buster and Bonnie Lou

Bonnie Lou (October 27, 1924-December 8, 2015) migrated to Kansas City and then to Cincinnati, where she was a fixture for many years on the nationally syndicated “Midwestern Hayride” show and on the locally loved “Paul Dixon Show.”

Interview with Bonnie Lou

While busy with her local TV career, she passed on an RCA recording offer, which limited her reach. She did record for the King label and her “Tennessee Wig Walk” charted at #6 in the US and #4 in the UK. One of the first female rock-and-roll singers and among the first to cross over from country, Bonnie Lou was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

 

Mattiwilda Dobbs, Met Opera Soprano

“Caro nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto

Mattiwilda Dobbs was the Roger Maris of opera: an exceptional talent who was unfortunately somewhat overshadowed by superstars before and  during her career. (In Maris’s case, it was Mantle, Ruth, DiMaggio; for Dobbs, it was Marian Andersen, Maria Callas and Leontyne Price.)

Mattiwilda Dobbs Sings Handel Arias, 1955

Still, she was a formidable presence as a coloratura soprano with the Met, having earlier appeared at La Scala and Covent Garden. Her career kicked off when she won first prize at the Geneva Competition in Switzerland in 1951.

Recital at Her Alma Mater, Spelman College, 1988

Dobbs (July 11, 1925-December 8, 2015) bravely refused to perform for segregated audiences, and she was not heard in her hometown of Atlanta until 1962. In 1974, she performed at the inauguration of Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson,  her nephew.

Scott Weiland, Singer for Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver

Stone Temple Pilots “Creep” Official Video

As a lead vocalist, Scott Weiland helped move grunge rock from garage to sold-out stadium. He was a multi-platinum artist for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, as well as the winner of several Grammy Awards.

Velvet Revolver “Slither” Official Video

In a eulogy on the Smashing Pumpkins’ website, Billy Corgan called Weiland (October 27, 1967-December 3, 2015) one of the distinctive voices of his generation along with Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain. Weiland’s husky voice was sometimes turbo-charged through the use of a megaphone in front of his microphone.

Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts “Modzilla” Official Video

For an overview of Weiland’s work, view Rolling Stone’s “Scott Weiland: 20 Essential Songs.” At the time of his death, the artist was touring with his current band, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, and preparing to play a concert in Rochester, MN.

 

Cynthia Robinson, Trumpet Player and Co-Founder of Sly & the Family Stone

“Thank You (Faletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” on Soul Train

Cynthia Robinson is the one and only woman trumpet player to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor she received as a member and co-founder of the ground-breaking funk/soul/psychedlic band Sly and the Family Stone.

“Dance to the Music”

“She was a KICK ASS trumpet player,” wrote Questlove in an Instagram tributeHer play-it-loud horn parts are a distinctive component to the Sly and the Family Stone sound. She took the same approach to vocals–that’s her shouting out the intro to “Dance to the Music.”

The Family Stone at Jazz San Javier 2014

After Sly and the Family Stone stopped performing, Robinson (January 12, 1946-November 23, 2015) continued to work with fellow band members in Graham Central Station and the Family Stone. She also appears on albums by George Clinton, Prince and Robert Cray.

I was fortunate to have seen Robinson in 1973, when Sly and the Family Stone performed at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, WV.