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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two R.I.P.s

In just the past few days, two of the most recognizable musical voices of the '60s (even if they weren't household names).

On Friday, Levi Stubbs died. He was best known as the lead vocalist of the Four Tops, who helped popularize the distinctive Motown sound. All that was achievement enough, but he also voiced Audrey II in the 1986 film-version-of-the-Broadway-musical-of-the-schlock-original of "Little Shop of Horrors," which makes him even cooler in my book. And this is one of my favorite Tops songs:

And just because, here's Billy Bragg doing "Levi Stubbs' Tears" at this year's SXSW:

Over at Funky 16 Corners, there's another fine tribute, along with a tune.

Meanwhile, we also lost Neal Hefti recently. He was a prolific jazz trumpeter/composer/arranger/etc. whose career started in the 1940s while working with Woody Herman's band. He later played with Count Basie and Frank Sinatra as well. You may not recognize his name, but you know his work -- he composed one of the most instantly recognizable (and swingingest) pieces of music to bubble up out of pop culture:

He also composed the theme to "The Odd Couple." To give you a taste of his non-television work, here's "Repetition" from 1947, featuring Charlie Parker on alto sax:

You'll be missed, fellas.