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Fuller Up, The Dead Musician Directory
 
 

DROWNING

 
 
Click on name for biography on this page
Jeff Buckley 
Johnny Burnette 
Randy California
Jimmy Hodder 
Art Porter 
Dennis Wilson
Brian Jones

Rudy Williams

 
 
 

 

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Jeff Buckley:
Age 30
 
(b. 17 Nov 1966, d. 29 May 1997)

Since he was the son of cult songwriter Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley faced more expectations and pre-conceived notions than most singer/songwriters. Buckley began playing as a high school student in New York. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to study music; while he was there, he performed with several jazz and funk bands, as well as playing with Shinehead, a leader in the dancehall reggae movement.  Buckley began a solo career playing clubs and coffeehouses, building up a considerable following. Soon, he signed a record deal with Columbia Records, releasing the Live at Sin-e EP in November of 1993.  It received good reviews, yet they didn't compare to the raves Buckley's full-length debut, 1994's Grace, received.  
On the night of May 29, he and a friend traveled to the local Mud Island Harbor, where Buckley spontaneously decided to go swimming in the Mississippi River and leaped into the water fully- clothed.  A few minutes later,  he disappeared under the waves; authorities were quickly contacted,  but to no avail -- on June 4, his body was finally found floating near the city's famed Beale Street area.  ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide 

Johnny Burnette:
Age 30
 
(b. 28 March 1934, Memphis, TN
d. 1 August 1964, CA ). 

Having attended the same high school as Elvis Presley, Johnny moved into the rockabilly genre by forming a trio with his brother Dorsey Burnette on string bass and school friend Paul Burlison on guitar. After touring with Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent, the trio underwent a change of personnel in November 1956 with the recruitment of drummer Tony Austin. That same month, the trio were featured in Alan Freed's movie ROCK, ROCK, ROCK.  By the autumn of 1957, the trio had split and the Burnette brothers moved on to enjoy considerable success as songwriters.  After briefly working as a duo, the brothers parted for solo careers. Johnny proved an adept interpreter of teen ballads. Both Dreamin’ and You're Sixteen were transatlantic Top 10 hits.  A series of lesser successes followed with Little Boy Sad, Big Big World, Girls and God, Country And My Baby. With his recording career in decline, Burnette formed his own label Magic Lamp in 1964.    
In August that year, he accidentally fell from his boat during a fishing trip in Clear Lake, California and drowned. Among the family he left behind was his son Rocky Burnette, who would subsequently achieve recording success at the end of the '70s  
~Music Central 96.  
  

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Randy California:
Age 45
 Spirit
 
(b. Randy Wolfe, 20 Feb. 1951, Los Angeles, d. 2 January 1997). 

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Randy California is best known as the leader of Spirit, although he occasionally has made solo albums. A guitar prodigy, California played in Jimi Hendrix's pre-Experience group the Blue Flames in New York's Greenwich Village in the summer of 1966. It was Hendrix who named him Randy "California." Spirit, an eclectic band with rock, jazz, and folk tendencies, was formed in Los Angeles in 1967. After four albums, the original quintet split up in 1971.  He rejoined Spirit in 1974 and has led the band ever since. (Spirit charted with ten albums between 1968 and 1976.)  Several subsequent Randy California solo albums have been released in Europe.
Randy California died tragically in January of 1997, when he was gripped by an undertow when swimming on the coast of the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Before he died, he was able to save his 12 year-old son, Quinn.   
~ William Ruhlmann, All-Music Guide 

 
 

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Jimmy Hodder:
Age 42
 
 
Steely Dan 
(died June 15, 1990). 

Jimmy Hodder, one of the original five members of Steely Dan, died on June 5th, 1990 by drowning in his swimming pool at his Point Arena home. He was 42.

 

Art Porter:
Age 35
 
(b.1961, d. 23 Nov 1996)
 
Pop-jazz saxophonist Art Porter drowned while in Bangkok on November 23. He was 35.  Porter had achieved success in recent years with a series of jazz-pop releases on Verve.  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

  
  

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Dennis Wilson:
Age 39
 
Beach Boys 
 
(b. 4 Dec. 1944, Hawthorne, California, d. 28 Dec. 1983). 
 
The former drummer with the Beach Boys started to develop as a notable songwriter during the late '60s when his elder brother, Brian, became less prolific. Dennis blossomed showing a hitherto unseen sensitivity which had always been clouded by his wild nature and legendary womanizing. Dennis, sadly became a tragic figure, his voice so badly wracked through drug and alcohol abuse ended as merely a painful croak. During a break from recording his unreleased BAMBOO in 1983.    
Wilson drowned after diving from his yacht in the harbor at Marina Del Ray, California.  As the only Beach Boy to have actually surfed, special dispensation was given to the Wilson family to bury Dennis at sea.   
~Music Central 96
 
 

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 Brian Jones:
Age 27
 
Rolling Stones 

(b. Lewis Brian Hopkin-Jones, 26 February 1942, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, d. 3 July 1969, Cotchford Farm, Sussex).   

 

While the Stones were re- establishing themselves, Brian Jones was falling deeper into drug abuse. A conviction in late 1968 prompted doubts about his availability for US tours and in the succeeding months he contributed less and less to recordings and became increasingly jealous of Jagger's leading role in the group. Richards' wooing and impregnation of Jones' girlfriend Anita Pallenberg merely increased the tension. Matters reached a crisis point in June 1969 when Jones officially left the group. The following month he was found dead in the swimming pool of the Sussex house that had once belonged to writer A.A. Milne. The official verdict was ‘death by misadventure’.    

 
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 Rudy Williams
Age
45

Jazz / Savoy Sultans

 

Rudy Williams (1909–1954) was an American jazz saxophonist, son of the well-known bandleader Fess Williams and cousin of the jazz great Charles Mingus.

 

Williams started on saxophone at age twelve, and concentrated on alto, though he was also capable on baritone and tenor sax. He became a member of the Savoy Sultans in 1937, and recorded frequently with the group. In the 1940s he played with Hot Lips Page, Luis Russell, Chris Columbus, and John Kirby, and led his own bands in Boston and New York City later in the decade. He played with Tadd Dameron in 1948, and after more time as a bandleader in Boston in the early 1950s, played with Illinois Jacquet and Gene Ammons in California. As a member of Oscar Pettiford's band, he toured East Asia in the 1950s.

Williams also recorded with Howard McGhee, Dud Bascomb, Don Byas, Babs Gonzales, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Eddie Vinson, Bennie Green, and Johnny Hodges. He never recorded as a bandleader. Upon his death, Charles Mingus wrote a memorial piece, Eulogy for Rudy Williams, then recorded it for Savoy. The liner notes of the Savoy LP state that Williams died by drowning in summer 1954. ~AMG

Rudy Williams played with many of the greats. Here's a partial list: Hot Lips Page, Luis Russell, Tadd Dameron, Illinois Jacquet, Howard McGhee, Don Byas, Babs Gonzales, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Eddie Vinson, Bennie Green, and Johnny Hodges. Almost as interesting -- his lineage. His father was swing-era bandleader Fess Williams, and his cousin was Charles Mingus, who wrote and recorded "Eulogy For Rudy Williams" when the sax player died in a drowning accident in 1954. [in Massachusetts according to Dizzy Gillespie's autobiography]~ http://opusforty.blogspot.com/

 
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