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Cause of Death






Theophilus Beckford: Age 65
(born 1935; died February 19, 2001)
Many people credited the pianist and vocalist Theophilus Beckford, who has died aged 65, as the originator of ska. He was stabbed to death in Kingston, Jamaica, following an altercation with an unidentified man.  Born in Trench Town, west Kingston, Beckford's access to the family piano enabled him to develop his talent. He cited the Memphis jump-blues piano playing of Rosco Gordon as particularly influential on his style, with Fats Domino another major inspiration; he was also fond of singers Lloyd Price and Patti Page. ...~
David Katz, Guardian, Monday March 19, 2001
"Easy Snappin'" became popular all over again when it was used in a UK jeans advertisement in 1990. For a second time, Beckford was denied his rightful remuneration. His son was pursuing those royalties when Theo Beckford was killed on the 19th of February this year. His death was brought by a hatchet blow to the back of the head following an altercation with an unidentified man. ~by MOHAIR SLIM

King Curtis: Age 37
(b. Curtis Ousley, 7 February 1934, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, d. 13 August 1971, NYC, NY, USA).
A respected saxophonist and session musician, Curtis appeared on countless releases, including those as disparate as Buddy Holly and Andy Williams. Curtis did venture to the Fame and American studios, but he preferred to work in New York. ‘In the South you have to restrain yourself to make sure you come back alive’, Ousley said to writer Charlie Gillett. Six months later, in August 1971, he was stabbed to death outside his 50 West 86th Street apartment building.  

"Saxophonist King Curtis lived [at 50 West 86th Street] in 1971 and he was stabbed to death in a skirmish with two junkies in the front of the foyer, whom he climbed over while bringing in an air conditioning unit for his apartment. The neighborhood must have been rougher then!" ~Anne

"Around midnight on August 13, 1971 Curtis was lugging an air-conditioning unit towards his brownstone apartment on West 86th Street in New York City when he noticed two junkies were using drugs on the steps to his home. When he asked them to leave, an argument started. The argument quickly became heated and turned into a fist-fight with one of the men, 26-year old Juan Montañez. Suddenly, Montañez pulled out a knife and stabbed Curtis in the chest. Curtis managed to wrestle the knife away and stab his assailant four times before collapsing. Montañez staggered away from the scene and Curtis was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where he died from his wounds less than an hour later.

Montañez was arrested at the same hospital Curtis had been taken to. When police officers investigating the murder learned that another man had been admitted to Roosevelt hospital with stab wounds around the same time as Curtis, they quickly realized that the two events were connected. Montañez was charged with Curtis' murder and subsequently sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

On the day of Curtis' funeral Atlantic Records closed their offices.Jesse Jackson administered the service and as the mourners filed in, Curtis's band 'The Kingpins' played "Soul Serenade". Amongst those attending were Aretha Franklin, Cissy Houston, Brook Benton and Duane Allman. Franklin sang the closing spiritual "Never Grow Old" and Stevie Wonder performed "Abraham, Martin & John and now King Curtis".

Curtis was subsequently buried in a red granite-fronted wall crypt in the 'West Gallery of Forsythia Court' mausoleum at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, New Jersey, the same cemetery that holds Jazz greats Count Basie and John Coltrane. "~ Wikipedia

"Like most musicians, Curtis was more five-to-nine. By the early '70s he was Aretha's musical director and working on John Lennon's "Rock 'n' Roll" album. In June 1971 he cut a live album at the Montreux Jazz Festival before returning to New York, where, on Aug. 14, he was tending to the apartment building he had just bought on 50 W. 86th St.

AROUND 11:30 p.m., according to early police reports, he was coming out of the building. Later reports said he was trying to carry an air conditioner in. Early reports say he ran into a man and woman sitting on the steps. Later reports say two junkies were arguing.

Whatever the logistics, Curtis - who had a temper - got into a fight with Juan Montanez, an ex-con and methadone user. As Curtis pummeled him, Montanez pulled a knife and plunged it into the larger man's chest. Curtis grabbed the knife and chased Montanez off, then collapsed. A half hour later, he was pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital.

At his funeral on Aug. 18, his band played an hour-long version of "Soul Serenade." Franklin and Stevie Wonder sang and Jesse Jackson preached the eulogy. When it came time to say goodbye, everyone finally knew King Curtis' name." ~ BY DAVID HINCKLEY, NY DAILY NEWS

Teddy Diaz: Age 25
The Dawn
(born: 1963; died: 21 August  1988)
Founding guitarist of a top Filipino band, The Dawn. Cause of Death: He was stabbed to death while walking home from his girlfriend's house late at night. ~ nichol portugal

James Reese Europe: Age 38
(Born: Feb 22, 1881 in Mobile, AL; Died: May 9, 1919 in Boston, MA)
With the exception of singer/comedian Bert Williams and a few obscure gospel groups, James Reese Europe and his orchestra were the first black musicians to ever record. Europe's Society Orchestra cut eight numbers during 1913-14, several years before the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. It would be inaccurate to call that music jazz since it was essentially written-out arrangements without any real improvising, but Europe's performances were influenced by ragtime and hinted slightly at the syncopations of jazz. Unfortunately, none of those historic performances have yet been reissued on CD but his 1919 "Hell Fighters" Band's 24 recordings have been released on Featuring Noble Sissle from the collector's IAJRC label. Tragically, Europe was stabbed to death by an irate drummer just two days after the final recording which is why he is obscure in jazz history and was unable to make his mark in music in the 1920s. ~Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Buy the James Reese Europe biography today: A Life in Ragtime by R. Reid Badger

More on the death of J.R. Europe:...The final concert on the tour was at Mechanic's Hall in Boston on May 9, 1919. That evening, when one of the "Percussion Twins," Herbert Wright, became angered by Europe's strict direction, he attacked the band leader with a knife during intermission. Noble Sissle recalled:

     "Jim wrestled Herbert to the ground, I shook Herbert and he seemed like a crazed child, trembling with excitement. Although Jim's wound seemed superficial, they couldn't stop the bleeding, and as he was being rushed to the hospital he said to me: "Sissle, don't forget to have the band down at the State House at nine in the morning. I am going to the hospital and I will have my wound dressed....I leave everything for you to carry on."

Europe's jugular vein had been severed. The next day the papers carried the headlines: "The Jazz King Is Dead." ~Thomas L Morgan

On May 9, Europe was preparing for a performance at Mechanics Hall in Boston. Gov. Calvin Coolidge had invited Europe to perform on the steps of the State House the next day. Europe’s promise was never brighter and his popularity never greater. But a musician named Herbert Wright, one of Europe’s own drummers, unleashed a rage against the band leader with little warning. Wright claimed the bandmaster had been showing favoritism to his twin brother, who was another percussionist with the band. Wright suddenly, and in full view of witnesses, stabbed Europe in the neck with a pen knife, leaving what appeared to be a superficial wound. But the bleeding wouldn’t stop and Europe, in his prime, died that day at a local hospital. ~Copyright©1999 by The American Legion

Andre (Dede) Fortin: Age 38
Les Colocs
Andre (Dede) Fortin, the founder and lead singer of one of the most popular Quebecois rock groups, Les Colocs, was found stabbed to death on the floor of his apartment in Plateau Mont Royal yesterday afternoon. Friends and family members, worried by not having heard from him since Sunday, dropped by his Rachel St. E. apartment around 2:45 p.m., police said.  After getting no response at the door, they found an open window at the rear of the apartment, climbed in and found Fortin, age 38, lying on his back on the floor of his living room.   He had been stabbed in the stomach and a knife was found in his body, police said...There was no sign of forced entry or a struggle in the apartment, police said.  They are treating the matter as a suspicious death, meaning they have yet to determine whether Fortin was killed or if he stabbed himself.  ~montrealgazette.com

Terry Knight: Age 61
Terry Knight and the Pack
(Born April 9, 1943, Michigan; died November 1, 2004, Temple, Texas)
Former Grand Funk Railroad Manager Murdered
By Paul Cashmere

Terry Knight, the manager of Grand Funk Railroad from 1969 to 1972, was murdered on Monday night [November 1, 2004].  Police were called to Knight's apartment at around 10.30pm. He was found with several stab-wounds. They tried to revive him by CPR. He died soon after.  Knight had left Grand Funk Railroad under unfriendly circumstances and founding member Don Brewer says they had not spoken for more than 30 years.   However, in a statement Brewer says "We were shocked to here that Terry had been murdered. Even though we have not had a friendly relationship with Terry over the last 30 years it still was very distressing to hear of his death".  "Terry Knight was instrumental in the birth and early success of Grand Funk Railroad from 1969 to 1972. Having been a former bandmate in previous bands with Grand Funk's? Don Brewer and Mark Farner (The Pack, and Terry Knight and the Pack) Knight later became manager and producer of Grand Funk Railroad. During those years Grand Funk sold millions of records and toured the world as one of the biggest rock bands of all time even selling out Shea Stadium in NYC faster than The Beatles".  "There was a major falling out between the members of Grand Funk and Terry in 1972 and Terry was fired. This led to huge lawsuits and lasting discord between GFR and Terry".  "Grand Funk moved on and continued to have great success with million selling hits 'We're An American Band,' 'Locomotion,' 'Some Kind Of Wonderful' and 'Bad Time.'  "We have had very little personal contact with Terry over the last 30 years".  "We deeply regret Terry's death and our sympathy goes out to his family." 
Knight lived at Chapell Hill Apartments with his daughter and her boyfriend, Donald Alan Fair, 26, who has been charged with murder. ~ http://feeds.bignewsnetwork.com/?sid=973e9ce814d7804d

Samuel George:  Age 40
The Capitols
(born: 23 January 1942; died: 17 March 1982 )
Originally formed as a quintet around 1962, the two principal members were Donald Storball
(guitar/vocals) and Samuel George (drums/lead vocals). Discovered by record producer Ollie McLaughlin and signed to his Karen label, their first single was Dog And Cat, which failed to go anywhere. Four years later, after splitting from the other members, Storball and George added pianist/vocalist Richard McDougall to the line-up and they fashioned the soulful dance number Cool Jerk which would become their only hit, reaching the US Top 10. George died after being stabbed in March 1982.

Val Pringle: Age 63
(Died December 13, 1999 in MASERU, Lesotho)
(AP) -- Police arrested two men in the slaying of American entertainer Val Pringle, who wrote songs for Harry Belafonte, performed with Eartha Kitt and  acted in "Ragtime'' and other movies, officials said... Pringle, 63, was stabbed to death Dec. 13 while confronting burglars at his home outside Maseru, capital of this southern African kingdom.  His Dutch wife, Thea van Maastricht, locked herself in a room and escaped unharmed, U.S. Ambassador Katherine Peterson said.   Police arrested two men, both reportedly from Lesotho, over the past two days and said they were seeking two other suspects. The robbers broke into Pringle's home after nightfall.  Alerted to their presence, Pringle grabbed a pistol, told his wife to stay back and went after the intruders, Peterson said.   Van Maastricht heard gunshots, then minutes later found Pringle in a pool of blood in the driveway. A coroner said Pringle had been stabbed 13 times.  Authorities believe he may have shot one or more of his assailants. His stolen car was later found abandoned with bloodstains on the seats.   It wasn't the first time tragedy struck the Pringle family in Lesotho, a mountainous country of 2 million people surrounded by South Africa. After Pringle moved to Lesotho in the 1980s, his brother Carl followed. Two years ago, Carl was shot while scuffling with carjackers who were trying to steal his minivan. He died months later of complications from the shooting, Peterson said.    more  








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