Passing Notes(3)

Blues artist (though he wouldn’t like to hear you say that) Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown passed away on September 10. He was 81.

Brown—who had been suffering for some time from lung cancer and chose not to undergo treatment—had evacuated his home in Slidell, Louisiana, to avoid the impending Hurricane Katrina. Over his 50-plus year career, Brown’s musical excursions spanned genres—from blues to jazz to country to zydeco, and he made more than 30 recordings. Brown won a Grammy award in 1982, but kept recording right up until the end. GP spoke to Brown in January 2005, with the release of his last album Timeless. When asked in that interview about the essence of his music, the genre-bending musician replied, “It’s about thinking positive and not getting stuck with someone else’s sound. As an artist, you have to have your own identity.”

Denis D’Amour, aka Piggy, guitarist for Canadian thrash metal band Voivod, died on August 26 after a battle with colon cancer. He was 45. Voivod was at its biggest in the ’80s, with the albums War and Pain, Killing Technology, and their biggest, Nothingface—which engendered a headlining tour in 1989 with Faith No More and Soundgarden. The band’s popularity waned in the ’90s, but they had a recent resurgence with the addition of ex-Metallica bassist, Jason Newsted. They played Ozzfest in 2003 and were planning to record another album. D’Amour had also recently cut guitar tracks for the band Aut’Chose, the fate of which is yet to be determined...

Blues guitarist R.L. Burnside, 78, passed away on September 1. Though he played guitar for years in Chicago and Mississippi—learning his skills from Mississippi Fred McDowell—Burnside’s career didn’t truly start until 2001, at the age of 65, when he was the first artist signed to Fat Possum records. Since then, he recorded 12 albums, finding more of a younger, crossover audience with his 1996 release, A Ass Pocket of Whisky, recorded with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.