Woodstock Obituaries: Performers Who Have Passed Since Woodstock ’69

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Some of the greatest artists in music history have passed away since the glory days of the Woodstock festival in 1969. Here is a list of musicians, in the order in which they performed at Woodstock ’69, that will be missed greatly as the 40th anniversary rolls around.

Joe Cocker (5/20/1944-12/22/2014)

An English singer and musician , best known for his cover of The Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends’.
Cocker and the Grease Band performed several songs at Woodstock, including “Delta Lady,” “Something’s Comin’ On,” “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” “I Shall Be Released” and “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Johnny Winter (2/23/1944-7/16/2014)

An American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer. He played at Woodstock for 65 minute at midnight his signature electric blues highlighted: “Leland Mississippi Blues”, “Mean Mistreater” and “Mean Town Blues”, 3 songs with his brother Edgar: “I Can’t Stand It”, “Tobacco Road” and “Tell The Truth” and the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B. Goode”

Richie Havens (1/21/1941-4/22/2013)

An american folk singer and guitarist and the first act to hit the stage at Woodstock. He performed for nearly two hours — including an improvisation that incorporated the spiritual “Motherless Child,” later called “Freedom.”

Alvin Lee (12/19/1944-3/6/2013)

The English rock guitarist and singer, best known as the lead guitarist and singer with the blues-rock/pop band Ten Years After.

Levon Elm (5/26/1940-4/19/2012)

The band. an American musician and actor known as the drummer and one of the vocalists for The Band.

Swami Satchidananda (12/22/1914-8/19/2002)

The Indian religious figure most well known as a spiritual teacher and yoga adept was wildly popular in the United States. He was the first speaker at Woodstock 1969. His legacy is a slew of books on yoga and spiritual enlightenment, most famously an illustrated book on Hatha Yoga.

August Burns (?-?)

Sweetwater. The cellist for Sweetwater, according to some was one of the coolest individuals of all time. He studied classics at UCLA and after Sweetwater, studied conducting in Germany. His best work can be heard during his solo on “My Crystal Spider”.

Albert Moore (?-1994)

Sweetwater. Former policeman, singer, songwriter, and flautist, Moore was a recognizable stage presence on stage. After Sweetwater he became a schoolteacher in northern California.

Alan Malarowitz (?-?)

Sweetwater. The original drummer for Sweetwater was known for being good natured and one hell of a drummer. After Sweetwater disbanded, he became a touring and studio drummer.

Bert Sommer (February 7, 1949 – July 23, 1990)

The folk singer had a hit with the song “We’re All Playing in the Same Band” and can be seen on footage of Woodstock performing his song “Jennifer”. Bert Sommer was also a Broadway performer and a brief member of a pop group called Left Banke.

Tim Hardin (December 23, 1941-December 29, 1980)

The talented folk singer and composer is best known for writing the hits “If I Were a Carpenter” and “Reason to Believe” which were covered by Bobby Darin and Rod Stewart respectively. After Woodstock Tim Hardin released a few albums that experienced commercial success and footage of “If I Were a Carpenter” can be seen during Woodstock footage.

Gary Thain (May 15 1948-December 8 1975)

Keef Hartley Band. The bassist for the Keef Hartley band is best known for his work with Uriah Heep. His flamboyant style and bass grooves are legendary in the rock world despite his short career. It is also said that Thain jammed with Hendrix during his musical stay as well.

David Brown (February 15, 1947-September 4, 2000)

Santana. The primary bass player for the original Santana lineup, Brown played for Santana from 1966 to 1971. After Woodstock and Santana, Brown played on Boz Skaggs’ debut album titled “Moments” as well as their later releases titled “Boz Scaggs & Band” as well as “My Time”.

Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson (July 4, 1943-September 3, 1970)

Canned Heat. Alan Wilson was the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Canned Heat. Canned Heat hit the height of their career in the late 1960’s when they played the Monterey Pop Festival as well as Woodstock 1969. Wilson was an outdoor enthusiast and often slept there to be closer to nature. He was also an avid reader of botany and ecology.

Bob “The Bear” Hite (February 26, 1943-April 5, 1981)

Canned Heat. The other lead singer for Canned Heat, Hite began his career at a record store. He was introduced to Alan Wilson and Canned Heat was soon to follow. It is said that his stage presence created some of the best live performances of the 60’s and 70’s. He was nicknamed “The Bear” after being a guest on Playboy after Dark.

Felix Pappalardi (December 30, 1939-April 17, 1983

The American born songwriter, vocalist, and bassist is most recognized for his work with Cream, but began his career as a founding member of Mountain. He moved to the Greenwich Village scene after studying classical music at the University of Michigan and being unable to find work. “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain is still widely played on classic rock radio. He and his wife Gail wrote “Strange Brew” with Eric Clapton

Janis Joplin (January 19, 1943-October 4, 1970)

One of the more famous deceased Woodstock acts, the troubled muse is still considered one of the best artists of all time. Her haunting and powerful voice resonates through music history. Her associated acts include Big Brother and The Holding Company, Kozmic Blues Band, and Full Tilt Boogie Band. Her documented performance of “Work Me Lord” at Woodstock might very well be one of the high points in music history.

Jerry Garcia (August 1, 1942-August 9, 1995)

Grateful Dead. The de facto leader of psychedelic gods The Grateful Dead, his charisma and good looks made him the face of the band. Garcia spent his entire career with the dead, while creating such side projects as the Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, and Legion of Mary. His open drug use and peaceful nature made him an icon of the hippie subculture. He is listed as number 13 of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (September 8, 1945-March 8, 1973)

Grateful Dead. A founding member of the Grateful Dead, he contributed vocals, Hammond organ, harmonica, percussion, and guitar. He met Jerry Garcia while spending time in coffeehouses and music stores. Garcia invited Mckernan onstage to play the harmonica and sing the blues one night, and the rest is history. He also had a short relationship and long friendship with Janis Joplin, and they are featured on a poster together.

Tom Fogerty (November 9, 1941-September 6, 1990)

Creedence Clearwater Revival. The older brother of lead singer John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty is best known for playing rhythm guitar for Creedence Clearwater Revival. Soon after Woodstock, the brothers became at odds with each other and the band fractured. Tom continued to record solo work, and played with artists such as Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders. Former bassist and drummer for CCR Stu Cook and Doug Clifford also performed on the 1973 album Zephyr National.

Keith Moon (August 23, 1946-September 7, 1978)

The Who. Crazy, hyperactive, and one of the best rock drummers in history, Keith Moon had a reputation for destruction. Members of The Who were all known for their reckless attitudes and destruction of property, but Moon may have spearheaded this mentality. He was notorious for blowing up toilets and driving his car into a swimming pool. Oh yeah, he was also one of the most influential drummers in the history of rock.

John Entwistle (October 9, 1944-June 27 2002)

The Who. Bassist for The Who, his sound influenced countless rock bass players such as Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Phil Lesh, Cliff Burton and others. His bass style influenced such great acts as Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience as well. His 1971 release “Smash Your Head against a Wall” was the first solo release by a member of The Who.

Spencer Dryden (April 7, 1938-January 11, 2005)

Jefferson Airplane. Dryden is best known as the drummer for Jefferson Airplane. He replaced Skip Spence in 1966, but left the band shortly after in 1977. He became the drummer of the Grateful Dead offshoot called The New Riders of the Purple sage. He was also member of The Dinosaurs and Barry Melton’s band before hanging up the sticks in 1995. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of Jefferson Airplane.

Nicky Hopkins (February 24, 1944-September 6, 1994)

Jefferson Airplane. Hopkins was basically the pianist for every popular psychedelic band of all time. He suffered from Chron’s disease, making it hard for him to tour, but he was one of the most demanded studio artists of the time. After working with such artists as The Who, Jeff Beck, Jerry Garcia, Steve Miller, and others, he released four solo albums.

Rick Danko (December 29, 1942-December 10, 1999)

The Band. Member of the former band and the renovated version, Danko was a jack of all trades, excelling in such instruments as bass, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, accordion, and the trombone. Danko began his career in a Canadian band known as the Hawks, which eventually became Bob Dylan’s backing band. Danko helped to form the original lineup of the band as well as the renovated version of The Band which lasted from 1983 to 1999.

Richard Manuel (April 3, 1943-March 4, 1986)

The Band. Richard Manuel, nicknamed “The Beak” start his music career singing in the church choir with his three brothers. Also a member of the Hawks, Manuel joined the band and was part of the original lineup utilizing such instruments as piano, keyboards, drums, lap slide guitar, harmonica, clavinet, marimba, and conga.

Paul Butterfield (December 17, 1942-May 4, 1987)

Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Born in Chicago, Butterfield formed the Blues Band in 1963. Butterfield is most well known for his blues harmonica style. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, and at Woodstock soon after. Butterfield’s harmonica can be heard on artist’s recordings such as Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, and The Band.

Phillip Wilson (September 8, 1941-March 25, 1992)

Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Wilson was a jazz drummer who broke into the mainstream with the Butterfield Blues Band. After being the drummer at the height of their commercial success as well as at Woodstock, Wilson went on to drum for other memorable jazz outfits such as the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Deadline.
Phillip was 50 years when murdered by Marvin Slater on March 25 1992. The motive was not disclosed during the 1997 trial.

Gene Dinwiddie (September 19, 1936- )

Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Dinwiddie represented the saxophone in the Butterfield Blues Band. His subtlety in the first releases soon gave way to brilliantly orchestrated sax solos in the later Blues Band album. His track with drummer Phillip Wilson titled “Love March” was featured on the live Woodstock album and resulted in it becoming a hit. His work is also featured on records by B.B. King, Melissa Manchester, Jackie Lomax, and Gregg Allman. I can’t even fully confirm that he’s dead, because I can’t find his cause of death or when he died anywhere.

Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942-September 18, 1970)

The influence of this young guitarist is prominent to the current day. His innovation in guitar playing, especially in the vein of what would be called heavy metal, is legendary. Jimi Hendrix was also known for changing the way music was recorded forever. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his death has resulted in a deeply suspicious Jimi Hendrix murder conspiracy.

Causes of Death

Joe Cocker – Lung cancer, age 70

Johnny Winter – emphysema combined with pneumonia, age 70

Richie Havens- Heart attack, age 72

Alvin Lee-Surgery complications, age 68

Levon Elm – throat cancer, age 71

Swami Satchidananda- thoracic aneurysm, age 87

August Burns- Pneumonia age ?

Albert Moore- Lung cancer age ?

Alan Malarowitz- Car crash age 31

Bert Sommer- Respiratory illness age 41

Tim Hardin- Drug overdose (heroin + morphine) age 39

Gary Thain- Drug overdose (heroin) age 27

David Brown- Kidney failure age 53

Alan Wilson- Drug overdose age 27

Bob Hite- Heart attack age 38

Felix Pappalardi- Murdered by his wife age 38

Janis Joplin- Drug overdose (heroin) age 27

Jerry Garcia- Heart attack age 53

Ron McKernan- Gastrointestinal hemorrhage age 27

Tom Fogerty- AIDS related (blood transfusion) age 48

Keith Moon- Drug overdose (Clomethiazole) age 32

John Entwistle- Heart attack age 57

Spencer Dryden- Cancer age 66

Nicky Hopkins- Surgery complications age 50

Rick Danko- Heart failure from drug use age 56

Richard Manuel- Suicide age 42

Paul Butterfield- Heart attack age 44

Phillip Wilson- Murdered age 50

Gene Dinwiddie- ?? ??

Jimi Hendrix- Asphyxiation (official cause) age 27