RIP 2020: Losses in the Music Community
It's always tough looking back at the losses we suffer each year, particularly in this year when it seemed like all of us had to deal with a lot. These are some of the losses in the music community that hit the hardest for us.
Riley Gale - Power Trip (Vocalist)
August 24th, 2020
The thrash metal outfit Power Trip is known for their knack for blending metal, hardcore, and thrash, spawning fans across the spectrum like a modern-day Pantera, and became a pillar of the Dallas hardcore scene. Lead singer Riley Gale, a DFW native deeply involved in the local scene since the early 2000s, passed away in August. He brought that sense of tight-knit hardcore community to Power Trip’s ethos even as they expanded into larger metal audiences, and he’s credited with trying to create a sense of unity among all the separate Texas scenes. As a “scene gatekeeper,” he was welcoming and open, inclusive in a way that not many are able to maintain. His ability to transcend the metal scene without sacrificing the DIY ethics of hardcore is to be commended, a rarity for which he will be remembered.
RJ Phillips - Life Long Tragedy (Guitarist)
March 29th, 2020
Involved in countless Northern California hardcore bands, including Life Long Tragedy, Allegiance, and most recently SPICE, RJ Phillips was a staple of the North Bay community. This is a huge loss for our community and anyone who has been involved in the Bay Area hardcore scene since the early 2000s. He will be remembered not only for his sharp guitar playing, but for his wise energy, dedication to songwriting and touring, and a willingness to fill in for anyone in need of a guitarist or bassist. His impact and quiet influence was felt by many.
Scene Point Blank had the pleasure of interviewing RJ and his younger brother Scott (lead singer of Life Long Tragedy) back in 2004, by former writer and fellow North Bay resident Zed. In retrospect, the interview was conducted during a high water mark for Bay Area hardcore, and encapsulates what the NorCal scene was all about at that time, highlighted by references to the first Set Your Goals shows in the summer of 2004. RJ will be sorely missed.
Frederick Nathaniel Hibbert passed away in September at the age of 77. A pioneer of Jamaican reggae, Toots & the Maytals performed for over 50 years, releasing Got To Be Tough this August.
photo by Bob Doran, taken 2005 at Reggae on the River.
Andy Gill - Gang of Four (Co-Founder, Guitarist)
Died February 1, 2020 at age 64
Cause: Multiple organ failure and pneumonia
"Gang of Four" was a name I'd seen pop up many times over my years of browsing music forums, but I never actually gave them a chance. I only got into Gang of Four this year when I read the headlines of Andy Gill's passing. When I heard Entertainment, what I ended up finding was one of the best albums I'd heard in years. Not only was he one of the pioneers of Post-Punk, but as I dug deeper, I learned of Gang of Four and Gill's level of influence on many of Rock's most reverent artists. Tom Morello paid tribute to Gill and proclaimed that Gill had been a huge influence on his guitar playing. Gang of Four were such an influence on Nirvana that Kurt Cobain even suggested they were just "a ripoff" of Gang Of Four. Even to this day, Gang of Four and Andy Gill's musicianship is influencing artists. Look no further than our album of the year, Run the Jewels' RTJ4, which samples "Ether" from the band's debut. It's clear that Gill's work with Gang of Four will continue to resonate with artists of all genres.
photo by Erin Altomare, 2005
- Aaron H
Ennio Morricone - composer
Died July 6th, 2020
Known for his compositions in over 400 films and television shows as well as scores of classical works, Morricone had a profound career notable not only for its longevity (Morricone started composing for cinema in 1960 and continued until 2016, winning an Oscar for his work on The Hateful Eight in 2015) but the sheer breadth of films he composed music for. While many film composers seem to specialize in one type of thing, Morricone, known to crank out more than a dozen film scores per year at times, was equally at home doing music for sexy thrillers or sinister horror films as he was composing for the westerns or dramas he's more well-known for.
I've heard it described by several people and it's true: a Morricone score could make a bad movie immediately watchable, make a good movie great, and make a great movie an all-time classic. While his name may not be known by all, I can virtually guarantee that most people would recognize certain Morricone compositions (several themes from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly immediately come to mind), yet I find his work for more obscure films to be perhaps more enjoyable. Truly a remarkable figure in the world of music. Addio, Maestro.