Sunday, January 08, 2006

ROCK 'n' ROLL MURDERS

The Bryan Harvey killings sadly remind me of other musicians who were murdered. Here's a list, taken mostly from a strange feature piece I did in The New Mexican in September 1998. I had to make some revisions -- such as the fact that Marvin Gay, Sr. died and Mia Zapata's killer has been arrested and convicted since the original story appeared. I don't claim it's complete, so feel free to point out omissions in the comments section,


Last month marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. He was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in shortly after the release of his first album in more than five years. Controversial biographer and reknown idiot Albert Goldman implied that Yoko was in on the killing.



Sam Cooke, one of soul music's founding fathers - who was one of the country's best known gospel singers in the 1950s and 1960s - was shot and killed by a motel manager in Los Angeles in 1964 while he was pursuing a woman. Cooke was wearing only a sports jacket and shoes when he was shot.


King Curtis, born Curtis Ousley, was a famed session sax man who recorded with Sam Cooke, (that's him with Cooke on the above album cover), Buddy Holly, Aretha Franklin, John Lennon, The Coasters, Wilson Pickett, LaVerne Baker, Bobby Darin, Solomon Burke, The Shirelles, Nina Simone and countless others. He was stabbed to death in front of his apartment in New York City on August 13, 1971.

Blaze Foley, an obscure but influential Austin singer songwriter who wrote Merle Haggard's "If I Could Only Fly" and who inspired Lucinda Williams' "Drunken Ange"l and Townes Van Zandt's "Blaze's Blues." On Feb. 1, 1989 Foley, whose real name was Michael David Fuller, was shot to death at the home of an elderly friend. The killer was the old man's son, Carey January, who claimed self defense. A jury later that year found January not guilty.


Marvin Gaye, one of the greatest soul singers of all time was shot and killed by his own father in 1984. The elder Gaye claimed self defense. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and given a six-year suspended prison sentence. He died in October 1998.

Bobby Fuller, an El Paso disciple of Buddy Holly, best known for his 1965 hit I Fought the Law, was found dead in 1966 inside his car parked in front of his mother's home. He was 22. He died of gasoline inhalation. Although his death was ruled a suicide, his family and friends have made a credible case that Fuller was actually murdered. His death was the subject of an Unsolved Mysteries segment as well as a panel discussion - featuring Fuller's brother Randy Fuller - at the 1998 South by Southwest Music Festival.

The Notorious B.I.G., a.k.a Christopher Wallace, was shot and killed in Los Angeles in March 1997. Although no link to Tupac's death has been established, many in the rap community believe Biggie was murdered in retaliation for Shakur's death. (Some Tupac partisans blame Biggie for Shakur's 1994 shooting.) The last song on Biggie's posthumously released second album is titled, "You're Nobody Until Somebody Kills You."

Tupac Shakur, the rap star, was shot and killed in Las Vegas, Nev. in September 1996. It was not the first time he had been injured by gunfire. Two years before he was shot five times in what police said was a robbery, though some Tupac fans claim was an assassination attempt by rivals in the music business. (Weird note: Some Tupac fans actually believe that Shakur faked his death and is still alive. )


Stringbean, born David Akeman. This banjo picker was a former sideman of bluegrass founding father Bill Monroe, though he was best known as a star of the country comedy television show Hee Haw. He and his wife were shot and killed by burglars at their Nashville home in 1973.

Peter Tosh, one of the original Wailers and a reggae star in his own right, was murdered at his Jamaica home in 1987.

Mia Zapata, lead singer and songwriter of the Seattle punk band The Gits, was raped and strangled July 7, 1993 while walking home from a popular bar. A decade after her killing, DNA evidence led police to a suspect -- Jesus Mezquia, who was living in Florida at the time of his arrest. He was convicted of Zapata's rape and murder in 2004 and sentenced to 36 years in prison.


One bizarre aspect of Zapata's murder is that several of her song lyrics seemed aimed at an unnamed serial killer. The song "Sign of the Crab" begins, "You take me for a roller coaster ride with your serial killing ways ... Go ahead and slash me up, spread me all across this town/'Cause you know you're the one who won't be found ... Maybe I pushed my luck one too many times ...."

In "Spear & Magic Helmet" she sang, "You jumped her from behind/Two against one ... Then you raped her, you left her in the alley way ... I'm coming after you/you're nothing but a filthy scum/ And now I'm out to ruin you and your reputation/ Just because you sing in a band, you think I won't do it ...."

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