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Dave Brubeck, RIP


Another great one is gone.

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  • c u n d gulag

    Oh no!

    I used to go down to the West Village to watch him, back in the 70’s and 80’s!

    You were one of the All-time Greats!

    • sparks

      I started feeling my jazz heroes leaving the scene around the year Dexter Gordon and Art Blakey passed on. From then on it’s been one after another, drummers Billy Higgins and Elvin Jones, keyboardist Joe Zawinul, and many more. Dave at least lived a long life, which makes it seem less a tragedy and more an inevitability.

      And of course, some of my jazz heroes are still around but that list gets shorter every year. No pun intended there, Wayne is happily still kicking.

      • The Lorax

        Great list. Billy Higgins is really underrated for how great he was.

  • brubeck is an interesting case: there’s no doubt that his career success owes a great deal to white skin privilege (in terms of absolute talent as a jazz musician, there are a number of pianists of his era who were “better” but african american), but he was a legitimate jazz musician, not a “smooth jazz phony” (even cecil taylor said nice things about brubeck!), and he never coasted on his reputation alone.

    and of course we can’t speak of brubeck without acknowledging his longtime sax partner paul desmond, a subtle and superb stylist.

    although he’s most famous (as eric’s clip confirms) for “take five” and his live at various colleges in the ’50s recordings, i’d suggest brubeck time as an entree.

    • Kurzleg

      Right. If nothing else, Brubeck was smart enough to work with Desmond.

    • fasteddie9318

      Sure, if you define “absolute talent as a jazz musician” as limited to just his piano playing, you’re right. But this unfairly diminishes his skills as a composer IMO. He was one of the greats in that regard.

      • howard

        i’m not dissing brubeck: if artistic greatness were the only factor involved in commercial success in popular music, the members of the velvet underground would be very wealthy today.

        but i just looked up the first random name that came into my mind: elmo hope. it turns out that hope was born in 1923 (brubeck in 1920) so they were peers chronologically.

        there simply isn’t any talent-based reason (hope being a fine composer too) for brubeck to be a significant success and hope to die poor.

        but i’m not taking anything away from brubeck: as i say, he was a legitimate talent without question, he simply benefited from white skin privilege.

        • howard

          in fact, just thinking about it one more minute: if cecil taylor ever had something nice to say about anything i ever did, i’d be walking on air the rest of my life, so the fact that taylor has complimented brubeck is pretty telling that brubeck is a true artist.

          • CJColucci

            if cecil taylor ever had something nice to say about anything i ever did, i’d be walking on air the rest of my life,

            Along those lines, I was on a cruise many years ago. The great Ruth Brown was on board and singing every night. Unbeknownst to me, she was sitting in the karaoke bar when I was performing. She joined my wife and me in the elevator and said: “I liked your karaoke.” That’s going on my tombstone, along with a nice thing Murray Kempton once said about me.

        • fasteddie9318

          I don’t dispute that Brubeck benefited from white privilege; there’s a reason he was the first jazz artist to make Time‘s cover since Louis, and it certainly wasn’t because he was the finest jazz artist of his era. But he definitely brought something to the party.

          • howard

            we’re not disagreeing at all: it’s just worth remembering that white skin privilege is real, not an abstraction, and even good or worthy people, so to speak, can benefit from it, since it’s cultural.

    • Hogan

      there’s no doubt that his career success owes a great deal to white skin privilege

      And he was smart enough to realize it.

    • As a humanist, he was at the forefront of integration, playing black jazz clubs throughout the deep South in the ’50s, a point of pride for him.

      “For as long as I’ve been playing jazz, people have been trying to pigeonhole me,” he once told the Tribune.

      “Frankly, labels bore me.”

      From the CT Obit.

    • Boudleaux

      Yeah, that Thelonius Monk was not much of a technical player, either.

      What bullshit. Insulting bullshit.

      • What in the hell are you talking about?

        • howard

          i have no idea what he’s talking about either, but it does give me an excuse (and in a couple of minutes of searching i couldn’t find the exact quote) of the prescient critic who somewhere around 1949 said of monk’s music that the technique of horowitz might not be sufficient for the demands of monk’s playing.

          • Monk’s brain was wired in a very strange way, beyond the ken of mere mortals. But the Horowitz comment is an exercise in hyperbole.

            • howard

              to some degree, but it’s also a very true statement: you couldn’t notate monk’s actual playing, and even if you could, the great horowitz couldn’t play it.

              technique, in short, is a means to an end: monk had all the technique he needed to produce an enduring and brilliant body of music.

              • This is an astounding melange of wisdom and bull shit.

                • howard

                  while i try to sort out which is which, i’ll take the moment to mention that i had a chance to chat with t.s. monk when he was touring with his sextet in the early ’90s, and he was talking about how at the fancy private school his parents had sent him to the music teacher kept saying to him “thelonious, your father plays the piano all wrong.”

                • howard

                  actually, i’ll add one more anecdote that comes to mind, artie shaw noting that “lester young played more clarinet than a lot of guys who played more clarinet than he can.”

        • Boudleaux

          I took his post as very insulting to Dave Brubeck. Brubeck had a unique vision of harmony and technique on his instrument. There is no amount of “absolute talent as a jazz musician” that would stand in for that. There was no other musician, African American or otherwise, who would have been Dave Brubeck had Brubeck declined to be Brubeck. See also, Monk. That said, I’m sure howard is one of the good guys who (eventually) came to praise Brubeck.

          I would also say, howard, that after transcribing a significant amount of Desmond’s playing, I don’t understand why he is not considered to be right there with the very best.

          • howard

            i have no idea why you think i come to insult brubeck when i point out he was not the greatest jazz pianist of his generation, and even more to the point, why you think i would bring cecil taylor praising brubeck up if my intent were to dis him.

            • Boudleaux

              Because of the very first thing you say in your post.

              • The whole first sentence?

                • Boudleaux

                  Look, I’ve taken acid before, but it wasn’t this morning. I read “owing your career success to white skin privilege” as, somehow, not complimentary, and given how odd “Take Five” and its success were, not true. So, no, not the whole first sentence. We’ll get to the bottom of this, though, that’s for sure.

                • howard

                  well, to the bottom it shall be: his “career success” is a financial, not an artistic, commentary, and yes, white skin privilege did contribute to it.

                  jazz is full of interesting paradoxes of that sort.

                  (related example: bing crosby would be the first to tell you that white skin privilege helped him make more money than louis armstrong, whose superiority as a singer crosby acknowledged. but louis loved bing’s singing too, and his jazz singing was outstanding.)

                • “owing your career success to white skin privilege”

                  Hmm, what’s between the quote marks there isn’t what was written, and the meaning of what was written is not what you excerpt either.

              • howard

                well, let me see which point you’re concerned with: you’re disputing that he benefited from white skin privilege? or you are arguing that he was the greatest jazz pianist of his era (brubeck was born in 1920, so that means, just off the top of my head, greater than monk, born in 1917? greater than bud powell, born in 1924? greater than hank jones, born in 1918? greater than elmo hope, born in 1923? greater than jaki byard, born in 1922?)?

                i happen to think both of these are very fair statements and not in the least insulting to brubeck (in fact, i suspect he’d agree with both).

                • All comparisons are invidious, and you can’t define greatness in any particular way. Arguing who may have been at the 99.9999th percentile vs the 99.998th is sophistry.

                  Let’s face it, artistic achievement and commercial success are to a reasonable first approximation, orthogonal. There are lots of reasons for this.

                  Brubeck was indisputably some version of great, and he just died today. Why honor him in the breech?


  • Todd

    I’ll be grieving in 5/4 time today.

    • Hogan

      9/8 will also be acceptable.

      • 7/4 is most appropriate.

        Dance unsquarely while ye may.


      • The Bobs

        Slip jig!

      • verplanck

        depends on how you count it.

    • howard

      you remind me that the first time i ever checked out time out, it was as a result of a review in rolling stone of the blind faith album that talked about a second-side space-filling jam, “do what you like,” as being based on “take five” (i didn’t know at the time what a jazz fan ginger baker was), and so i figured i should check this out, since it was cool enough for clapton-baker-winwood, and that’s how i bought my first dave brubeck album!

      • Sherm

        Now that record stores no longer exist, what does a guy like you do? I often lament how difficult it is to get turned on to something new or different these days when the opposite should be true.

        • actually, sherm, i could carry on endlessly but instead i’ll just say briefly – this is the greatest time ever for getting exposed to new music as far as i’m concerned.

          i miss going to the record store, i really do, and i miss the serendipity of your finds and the joy of discovering a rare classic hidden away in a bin somewhere….

          but, truly: there are some critics whose taste i trust, there’s the “people who bought this also bought” version of the old record-store clerk recommendation, there’s all sorts of streaming options to check things out.

          as a result – and i’m someone who has always sought out a wide range of music – i find it easier than ever, and that’s before i even get around, for example, to getting on spotify….

          • Sherm

            Thanks for the response. Guess I need to try a little harder.

            • sherm, you could do worse than spend some time streaming kexp….

  • Scott Lemieux

    Damn, and I missed a chance to see him when he played at Saint Rose two years ago.

    • ya know scott: ya gotta take advantage of these chances when they present themselves!

      i still hate myself for missing a chance to see the stones at madison square garden in 1969, and that only begins the list (somehow i never saw ray charles and i’ve still never seen merle haggard).

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yeah, even though the Stones are still alive missing them in ’69 is pretty much equivalent.

        Thanks for the tip on Brubeck Time — will have to check it out.

        • yes, unlike brubeck, the stones (although they work hard in their won way) have been coasting for decades: ’69 was the time to have seen them!

          • Sherm

            Not sure if coasting is the right word, Howard. I’m just not sure that its possible for a rock band to maintain the creativity needed to make great music for longer than they did. Who has? An argument could be made for U2 in light of their recent albums, but they kind of sucked for most of the 90’s in my opinion.

            • howard

              as an example of not coasting, i give you neil young.

              (admittedly, i’d have a hard time coming up with a second!)

              look: if i had a chance to see keith richards and charlie watts in a club, i’d line up to hear ’em, but as a band, they’re a polished oldies act at this point….

              • Richard

                “as an example of not coasting, i give you neil young.

                (admittedly, i’d have a hard time coming up with a second!)”

                Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen come to mind immediately (plus I like their more recent stuff better than I like the recent stuff of Young).

                • snarkout

                  Yo La Tengo are pushing thirty years as a band at this point. (Actually, I think they’re older than that, but thirty years with the current lineup.) Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon. The Roots. I’m not particularly into his last few albums, but maybe David Byrne.

                • Richard

                  ” People have been hating on Dylan live for almost 50 years (I think of “Last Thoughts on Woody”). I saw him in SF in October and liked the energy, though I wish he’d sung the new songs”

                  But the reviews on the current tour have been particularly bad. He played the Hollywood Bowl when he was here a few months ago and I passed, having seen him many times before and thinking that the Bowl was a especially poor venue for his show.

                  Also the failure to play anything from Tempest on most of the shows seems very perplexing. Usually artists play new stuff and get ragged on for not playing the hits. Bob is doing the opposite.

              • pete
                • Sherm

                  If you include his son’s music, maybe.

                • pete

                  (Replying to Sherm): Gimme a break. Feel free to dislike Dylan’s music, and croaky old voice, to which I jokingly referred, but coasting? At 100+ gigs a year, not to mention still writing and recording new material — Tempest may be controversial, but plenty of us respect it a lot. And then there is his 50-year tradition of pissing off people …

                • Sherm

                  Dude, where did I accuse him of coasting? I’m a fan, and I’m also a fan of his son.

                • Why is Tempest controversial? Did I miss something? You’ve piqued me, pete!

                • Richard

                  There have been a lot of great Tempest reviews but a lot of reviews that hate it. (I’m with the former). And I think the almost universal dislike that Dylan has got for the performances on his current tour have convinced some to jump on the anti-Dylan bandwagon.

                • Oh, so not even a L&T-style plagiarism issue? “Some people like it, some people don’t” is a little underwhelming as far as controversies go.

                • pete

                  Hey, Sherm, if I misunderstood, sorry; but the sub-thread was about coasting, and it sounded to me like you were saying Bob had passed the torch to Jacob.
                  To Mark: Check it out! There are indeed those who complain.
                  To Richard: People have been hating on Dylan live for almost 50 years (I think of “Last Thoughts on Woody”). I saw him in SF in October and liked the energy, though I wish he’d sung the new songs.

                • Richard

                  Yeah, but some of the reviews have really hated it (not just dislike), accused Dylan of being old and out of it and advised him to end his career.

                • Sherm

                  Pete, I’d much rather listen to Jakob (extremely underrated btw) than Bob at this point in time, so you weren’t that far off base. But I remain a fan of the old man and didn’t accuse him of coasting. His music just doesn’t interest me right now, but that could always change of course.

            • Richard

              I saw the Stones in 69. Great, great show. They still are good live now but now they’re the best Rolling Stones cover band, rather than an essential force.

              On the other hand, saw Bruce and the E Street Band just last night. As good a show as I’ve ever seen (and i’ve seen him about fifteen times). I’m a little groggy this morning (show was three and a half hours long, finished at midnight and then had to drive an hour to get home) but I’m still pumped. The man is not resting on his laurels. He and the band play like every show is gonna be the last one.

              Brubeck was great. Got to see him with Desmond back in the late 60s. On the white skin thing, the fact that he was white gave him greater exposure and more popularity but thats really besides the point. He was a great pianist, a great composer and never let his popularity cheapen his art.

              • Sherm

                Saw him in September. Excellent show. I had decided years ago that I was done with big venue concerts, but made an exception to see Bruce one more time, and I have no regrets.

                • Richard

                  I saw him in April as part of this same tour. Show last night was even better than the show in April.

            • snarkout

              I dunno, it depends where you draw the line of losing interest in the Stones; from their first single to Some Girls is only the first third of the band’s existence. Fifteen years of interesting music isn’t a terrific record of longevity as far as that thing goes.

              • Sherm

                I’d say through Tatoo You. And to each his own, but Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed, Beggar’s Banquet, Exile on Main Street, etc., were a little bit better than merely “interesting.”

                • snarkout

                  Oh, no, don’t get me wrong, that’s an absurd fifteen year peak (with the exception of Their Satanic Majesties’ Request, which I don’t much care for). It’s just that everything after that fails to rise beyond the level of “workmanlike” for me, let alone to “all-time great”. There’s a reason that the Onion does an annual “Least Essential Albums” list. (Tastes differ, and I haven’t listened to any of their post-Some Girls work often enough to have a really informed opinion. It’s possible there are a couple gem singles in there.)

              • John

                I actually like some of the Stones’ latter day output – Voodoo Lounge is a totally solid album, for instance, with some good songs. I really like “Saint of Me,” from Bridges to Babylon, as well, and even the most recent album had some decent songs. I don’t think anything after Some Girls is actually great, or that anyone owes it to themselves to check it out, or anything like that, but it’s totally decent, workmanlike product. Is it really fair to ask for more?

                • Scott Lemieux

                  As I say below, after (the other) Bill Wyman’s clever but shallow Jagger-responds thing, I put together a post-78 playlist on iTunes, and there’s a lot of entertaining stuff. Most of the 80s stuff is pretty dire, but the last three all have their share of moments.

                • “Undercover if the Night” the song is actually very good- extremely scuzzy and effective- and the Stones do scuzzy. Jagger’s liitle blues number on SNL about the election I actually liked too.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  “Undercover if the Night” the song is actually very good- extremely scuzzy and effective- and the Stones do scuzzy.

                  And also in the Scorsese thing “She Was Hot” is a lot more lively than the AOR warhorses they play out of obligation. Those two are about all that album has, but…even their weakest records have good songs.

              • BobS

                The Stones were still peaking through 1972 and Exile On Main Street. And Mick Taylor, their best guitarist, was with them on that tour.
                There’s still plenty of 60’s icons at the top of their game- Richard Thompson, Ray Davies, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Eric Burden, Jeff Beck, Dylan. I’ve seen Roky Erickson and Leonard Cohen recently, and they both kicked ass.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Yeah, because they keep touring and releasing albums the Stones are symbols of decline, but they’ve actually held up better than most of their peers. A best if you put together of post-Exile Stones would be vastly better than a similar one for McCartney solo, Kinks, Beach Boys, etc. It’s just that runs like the Aftermath-through-Exile one are rarely approached by anyone, and it’s not surprising that the Stones themselves didn’t either.

              • Richard

                Certainly agree as compared to McCartney solo and the Kinks (and almost anybody else from the 60s except Cohen and Springsteen and Dylan). Would disagree about the Beach Boys. Some of the Brian Wilson stuff has been great and the Beach Boys record of earlier this year, although maddeningly erratic, had a few really great things (Summer’s Gone) and was way better than I had any reason to expect.

                • Sherm

                  Fogerty has made some good albums as well, and he’s still excellent in concert.

                • Richard

                  Thinking about it further,I would add Dr. John and Mark Knopfler to the list as well. Both of their records this year were first rate.

                • howard

                  i apologize if this is repeating, but apparently my previous attempt is “being held for moderation” (well i never!):

                  look, perseverance can be its own reward, and the stones are certainly not talentless hacks, but i think we can all agree that they are not what they were.

                  i mean, i don’t want to press the point to a ridiculous extreme, but when duke ellington was the stones’ age, he was producing such late career masterpieces as and his mother called him bill, afro-eurasian ecclipse, and, most importantly, far east suite, with the sacred concerts still to come.

                  hell: louis armstrong goes top of the charts when he’s the stones’ age!

                  ok, i’m having fun with it, and look, if i could make the money the stones make for being a great oldies act, you’d have to pry me off the stage too in all likelihood….

                • Sherm

                  Howard, different genres of music. I’m not sure that the Stones’ genre lends itself to such sustained excellence as no one has managed to do so yet.

                • howard

                  and really, sherm and others, there’s two separate issues: the quality of new recordings and the quality of live performance.

                  bruce springsteen has never much appealed to me, but by all accounts (as richard mentions above) his show today is as exciting as his shows were 37 years ago.

                  yo la tengo, to pick another example, i love and have seen many times, and i’ve never been disappointed: they just keep on keeping on.

                  but i don’t know anyone who says “the stones are just as exciting to see today as they were in 1969.”

                  when you add to that the relative anonymity of their last 20 years of recorded work (to go ahead and switch genres on you and pick up on scott’s point, sonny rollins made a series of spotty albums for milestone in the ’70s and ’80s of which the best material was then repackaged on the utterly fantastic 2-cd set silver city) i used the word “coasting,” although that does have a slightly hyperbolic quality to it.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  I dunno, I haven’t heard the last one, which is apparently pretty good, but frankly I prefer post-Some Girls Stones to post-Tunnel of Love Springsteen. Bruce might be a better live act; again, I can’t judge.

                • Sherm

                  Totally OT — But the divergent musical tastes displayed by many here is quite impressive.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  I don’t really disagree with Christgau’s point, but the fact that Sonic Youth were never big stars I think puts them in a different category; Moore and Gordon weren’t in a position where their lives were unreal. (Also, as a bigger SY fan than you The Eternal seems like Tattoo You or A Bigger Bang to me; a solid, entertaining, well-crafted album that nobody thinks belongs near the top of their canon.)

                  Same thing with YLT — a wonderful band, but Ira and Georgia don’t live lives in a bubble of isolated privilege; it’s hard to compare them with musicians who do.

                • there’s an important point here, which is finance.

                  we didn’t always expect performers to get rich except at the very top: whether you were bill monroe or muddy waters or duke ellington, you had no choice but to remain a vital musical presence, particularly live: that was your living!

                  yo la tengo or sonic youth (and wow, it’s been 25 years since the first time i saw them, now that i think about it) are much closer in finances to that older model than they are to the wealthy stones.

                  and once you are that wealthy, well, it doesn’t mean you are bound to coast, but it certainly becomes a reasonable option.

                • Richard

                  “but i don’t know anyone who says “the stones are just as exciting to see today as they were in 1969.”

                  Being of advanced age, I can make the comparison. I saw the Stones in 1969 at the Oakland Coliseum. Incredible show. Felt like you were part of something. (Didn’t hurt that the opening acts were BB King and Ike and Tina Turner)

                  Saw the Stones on their last tour. It was a lot of fun but it wasn’t anywhere near like seeing them in ’69. The old songs hold up, everything after Exile really doesn’t.

                • Richard

                  “Bruce might be a better live act; again, I can’t judge.”

                  Scott, is this an admission you have never seen Springsteen live? If so, this is something you need to remedy. He ends his US tour tomorrow and is then going to play Australia and Europe from next March through July but he might add some US dates after that. I’ve seen a lot of live music in my life. He’s the best live entertainer I’ve ever seen.

                • BobS

                  I haven’t seen Springsteen since the late 70’s, but I agree he was/is a superlative live performer who put everything he had into it. He always seemed to me like he was having even more fun than the audience (who was having a shitload of fun), and he wasn’t too cool to show it. But one band that unfailingly brought even more energy to the stage than Springsteen- and I admit I may be a homer- was the MC5.

                • Richard

                  Never saw MC 5 live. Would have liked to. There is a Sprinsteen- MC5 connection. Jon Landau, Springsteen’ s long time manager and Born to Run producer, produced the second MC5 album

                • BobS

                  That record took some getting used to when I first heard it- it sounded too different from the band I knew and loved. Now it might be my favorite. It’s easy to draw a line from the proto-punk Kick Out the Jams MC5 to the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Clash, and Ramones. But the power-pop sound of the Back In the USA MC5 is more connected to Big Star, the Pretenders, Nick Lowe, Marshall Crenshaw, and the Knack (those latter two also sharing a Detroit connection- the late Doug Fieger was the brother of a well known local attorney who once ran for governor of Michigan).

              • howard

                look, perseverance can be its own reward, and the stones are certainly not talentless hacks, but i think we can all agree that they are not what they were.

                i mean, i don’t want to press the point to a ridiculous extreme, but when duke ellington was the stones’ age, he was producing such late career masterpieces as and his mother called him bill, afro-eurasian ecclipse, and, most importantly, far east suite, with the sacred concerts still to come.

                hell: louis armstrong goes top of the charts when he’s the stones’ age!

                ok, i’m having fun with it, and look, if i could make the money the stones make for being a great oldies act, you’d have to pry me off the stage too in all likelihood….

        • If you had seen them in ’69, would you remember it?

          • howard

            concerts i saw and remember in 1969 (when i turned 17):

            spring ’69: hendrix at the electric factory in philadelphia

            may/june ’69: john mayall/taj mahal at the fillmore east

            early summer ’69: jefferson airplane at the allentown fairgrounds

            (special note: i was sitting in paris on my way home from a summer with a jewish youth group in israel to discover that my friends were all…at woodstock!)

            early fall ’69: the who at the fillmore east (they not only performed tommy but “a quick one while he’s away”)

            later fall ’69: hendrix at the spectrum in philly (on a rotating stage, for god’s sake!)

            later fall ’69: the mothers of invention at muhlenberg college in allentown

            so yes, i think i would remember, and richard has already indicated he did, and he does.

            • CJColucci

              I hate you.

              • howard

                if you really want to hate me, let me roll out the lineup of the first rock and roll show i ever attended, age 15, at the spectrum in philly, in spring ’68:

                opening: buddy guy + junior wells

                followed by: the moby grape on their only east coast tour

                followed by: janis joplin with big brother on their first east coast tour (special eric alert!)

                followed by: the chambers brothers, whose “time has come today” was a big hit at the time

                and capped by – get ready, i’m not kidding, this was the headliner/show closer (admittedly we’re talking 1 a.m. here): the vanilla fudge!

                let me free! (my buddy rick, who had a driver’s license, and i got out before that set was over: enough was enough….)

                • It definitely seems like that show started off strong, descended in order of performer more or less (though I’m not familiar with the Chambers Brothers).

                • howard

                  of course i had no idea at the time that i would end up one of the very few people outside the bay area to ever seen the now-legendary moby grape.

                  the chambers brothers were a black group that mixed gospel roots and rock and psychedelic rhythms and guitar: time has come today was their one big hit (it was 11 minutes long and used a lot of echo and reverb). basically, we’d call them a party band today.

                • Richard

                  Great show. I used to see the Chambers all the time in LA before they went psychedelic with Time Has Come Today. When I saw Hendrix in 68 , opener was Albert King, then John Mayall and, on Sunday night, Big Brother was added to the bill

                • BobS

                  Shows like that were popular at the time- I think it was 1969 I saw one at the Michigan State Fairgrounds that featured a bunch of local acts (who at the time included the MC5, the Stooges, Brownsville Station, the Rationals, & the Amboy Dukes featuring a young and still sane Ted Nugent) along with Sun Ra, Chuck Berry, Dr John the Night Tripper, Johnny Winter, the James Gang, and one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on stage (& that includes Sun Ra and P-Funk), the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
                  Saw Steve Earle about 10 years ago and he did a good cover of “Time Has Come Today” (as well as a great cover of “No Reply”).

                • Richard

                  I saw the Bonzos live once too (at the Avalon Ballroom if memory serves). Incredible show.

            • BobS

              Good year for you.
              To add to the list of Rolling Stones’ contemporaries who I can personally attest have not coasted into this decade, I would add Taj Mahal, John Mayall, and Jorma Kaukonen/Jack Cassidy.

            • Richard

              I don’t remember exact dates but do remember the concerts. From 67 to 70 saw Country Joe, the Dead, the Airplane,Quicksilver, BBKing, Muddy Waters, Howlin wolf, Albert King, Freddy King, John Lee Hooker, Kinks, Cream, Electric Flag, Doors, Hendrix ( on consecutive nights), Steve Miller, the Band, mothers, Booker T , Otis Redding, Aretha (joined on stage by Ray Charles), Clifton Chenier, Ike and Tina, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Taj Mahal, Mayall, Big Brother, Mose Allison,many more

              • Sherm

                What kind of venues did guys like howlin wolf and muddy waters play then?

                • howard

                  sherm, i can’t speak for sf, where richard was, but on the east coast, remember that there was a certain embrace of blues pioneers by longhair culture, and so people like the wolf and muddy were sometimes booked into the rock “ballrooms.”

                • Richard

                  They sometimes played ballrooms but also played clubs. I saw both Muddy and Wolf in small clubs in Berkeley and SF. And had previously seen Wolf at the folkie club in LA, the Ash Grove where I also saw Bill Monroe, Clarence White, Brownie and Sonny, many others. Wolf and Muddy were better in the clubs. BB, on the other hand, had a show that worked well in the ballrooms One of my roommates in Berkeley played in John Lee’s band so I saw him at various venues

                • I saw Muddy Waters open for Silver Apples at the Eagles’ Auditorium in Seattle, 1968-ish.

                • Silver Apples?

              • Buddy Guy mentioned at least twice from the late ’60s; saw him at the Hollywood Bowl last summer (or the summer before, whatever) & was not disappointed in the least.

    • I had a chance to see the last full concert Johnny Cash ever performed. I was a graduate student and it was like $40 and I didn’t have much money and I figured I’d see him next time around.

      Next night is when he fell on stage. Never did a show again.

      • I did however see Chet Atkins’ last show.

      • howard

        great example of why you need to seize the time! (i never saw cash or atkins i’m sorry to say)

        • Richard

          Artist I most regret not seeing live was Armstrong (and the Beatles but those chances were very, very few). Fortunate to have seen most of the giants – Davis, Brubeck, Sinatra, Redding, Hendrix, Charles, Presley (although only the fat Elvis), Cash, etc.

      • I decided not to go see Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros because none of my friends wanted to go. After reading the review in the paper the next day, which made it sound like, if not the best, the most fun concert ever, I vowed not to miss him next time even if I had to go alone. Then he died.

        • Sherm

          Time for some new friends.

          • At the time, most of the friends who normally would’ve gone were out of town at school.

        • He was a lot of fun touring with The Pogues. Saw him in their band on New Year’s Eve. It was a party.

  • Barry Freed


  • Kurzleg

    I just put on DBQ’s live recording “Jazz at Oberlin” in his honor. RIP, Dave.

    • “Jazz at College of the Pacific” for me. Also, and I have no idea how blasphemous this is, I’ve always preferred “Pick Up Sticks” off “Take Five”:


      • If that is blasphemy, then I’d rather not be pious.


    • Green Caboose

      I attended his 25th anniversary (of that album) concert at Oberlin (think it was 1983). Desmond wasn’t there, of course, but it was still a terrific performance and you’ll never see a more enthusiastic crowd. Hard to believe it’s been almost 30 years since then ….

      • Keaaukane

        I saw him in 1983 with the Honolulu Symphony. It was ok, but I really wished for just him, in a smaller venue.

        Soon as I finish the time machine, off to see him in a small venue. Then to the Cavern in Hamburg for the Beatles. Then the ’23 world series…

        • Keaaukane

          Sorry, brain fart. The Cavern was in Liverpool.

  • Brubeck was a class act, and it is unfair to his memory to suggest that the fact of his race accounted for his commercial success. His band was mixed, and he took grief for it, and he was generally outspoken on racial issues. Most of all, he was aware that he was working in a form that had been invented by African-American artists, and he had the class to feel bad about the fact that his white privilege came at the expense of those artists.

    I’m not sure when I last saw him play– his saxophonist lives in Buffalo, so he was in the area fairly regularly. He was solid up to the end.

    • Well done, sir!

    • Why can’t it be both, though?

      For a more recent example, would anyone dispute that Eminem was both (1) near the top talent of his field and (2) a bigger seller than his contemporaries owing to being white?

      • howard

        thank you mark f, a great example.

        i have to admit, i find it surprising that some people are taking offense at the notion that white skin privilege was real for brubeck (i doubt that he would have taken offense, btw).

        as i noted way upthread, white skin privilege is real, not just some abstraction, and “good” people can benefit from it (speaking as a white person, i feel highly confident that some fraction of my modest success in life is white skin privilege).

        • Dave Brubeck was the jazz musician I saw on TV. I knew what his face looked like and what he did. That wasn’t true for a lot of his contemporaries.

        • It’s probably a pretty simple matter of people not wanting to admit their own privileges. The attitude is perplexing to me, but it seems to be pervasive.

        • L2P

          So who exactly are you saying Eminem sold more less records because they weren’t white?

          Mathers is one of the top 10 rap albums OF ALL TIME. It sold slightly more than Doggy Style (similarly beloved), but was a decade later when rap was selling more, so . . . eh? Yeah, probably because of Whiteness.

          Slim Shady and The Eminem Show are both in the top 50. Again, right around where other similarly anticipated and beloved albums. But you’re right, probably whiteness.

          I’m going to call bullshit on this. I don’t know anyone, anywhere, that wants a good white rappers over a good black one. Not a one. Maybe a BAD white rapper. But not a good one.

          • Pat Boone’s “Tutti Frutti” getting higher on the charts than Little Richard’s contemporaneous original version says absolutely nothing about anything except the superiority of Boone as a rock’n’roll singer.

            • Richard

              Pat in all his glory


              By the way, Little Richard turned 80 today

              • richard, wow, to think of little richard being…80! tutti frutti!

                • Richard

                  I know. It just doesn’t seem possible.

            • mark –

              Do you happen to know any god damned thing about the 50’s?

              That is so off-topic irrelevant that I am reduced to sputtering.


              • Not a whole lot. I think maybe some piano player had a hit jazz record that decade, but I wouldn’t want to derail the tread.

                • Wise decision.

                • Sherm

                  Yeah, I already did that with the Stones.

            • L2P

              I may be confused here, but I don’t think Pat Boone and Little Richard were rappers.

              I’m also pretty sure neither of them put out songs in the 90’s or the 00’s.

              Am I wrong here? Did I get my life confused with Back to the Future somehow?

              • Pestilence

                And now mark will force you to listen to Pat Boone’s Christian Rap albums, in punishment, after which execution will seem like a kindness.

      • L2P

        It’s unfair because it lumps him in with Vanilla Ice. Now you’re left with Vanilla Ice sold tons of rap records because he was white – JUST LIKE EMINEM! And who can forget Limp Bizkit? And Eminem’s Detroit buds, Insane Clown Posse? Also White! Just Like Eminem!

        But more importantly, it’s a backhand dis that’s undeserved. Is Eminem a top talent in his field? Yes. But is he a bigger seller than his contemporaries because he’s white? Who the hell knows?

        He’s not Vanilla Ice. He could be black and sell just as many albums because he’s just that covered in awesome sauce. Or he could be selling more because he’s white. Or maybe he’s selling less because he’s white but his brand doesn’t translate as “real” or whatever. Nobody has a clue. If they did, the record companies wouldn’t lose millions promoting acts that don’t sell.

        All you can really say is Eminem is hella talented and sells lots of records, almost as many as Kanye and Jay-Z most years.

        • Who the hell knows?

          Let us pray to the King of Rock and Roll for an answer.

          • CJColucci

            Don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll.

        • Actually, Eminem is the top-selling rap artist of all time.

          No reasonable inference can be made from this.

          • L2P

            Yes, you should infer that white rappers outsell black rappers!

            Eminem actually isn’t the highest selling; that’d be Pac. If you throw in international sales Eminem might be in the lead because he kills there, but that’s a hard number to track down.

            If you look at the top 10 all-time sellers in rap, you find 2 white acts – the Beasties and Eminem. I’m pretty sure that’s it for the top 20. If you want to argue that that’s solid proof of white privilege in the rap world, knock yourself out. Personally, I’d think that two hall-of-fame, ground breaking white rap acts hitting the top 20 (of a list that includes MC Hammer, among others) really kind of shows the opposite, but different strokes.

      • Scott Lemieux

        “If I were black, I woulda sold half.”

  • Warren Terra

    Also in today’s obits, and probably not getting enough attention (not that I’d heard of him before I read the obit): the pro-labor, pro-civil-rights longtime Texas Democratic Representative Jack Brooks

    • John

      It was a big deal when he lost in the 94 landslide, I believe. Didn’t realize he was such a good liberal.

  • Surreal American
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