Sticking with my current musical theme, but with with a much more sombre twist, the last couple of weeks have seen the loss of three musical greats of our time. Even though their particular types of music and styles were vastly different, each of them was supremely innovative and genre-defining in their own way. They were also all associated with keyboard instruments of one form or another so are, perhaps, a little closer to my own heart than most other musicians.
First of all, on the 21st April 2020, the world lost a remarkable musician by the name of Florian Schneider. You may not recognise the name straight away (unless you happen to be into electronic music or synthesizers and such things) but you’ll certainly recognise the name of the band that he founded along with Ralf Hutter – Kraftwerk. Innovatively electronic, delightfully robotic and inspiringly creative, Kraftwerk were always a towering force in the vanguard of electronic music and paved the way for countless electronic and synth-pop artists that have followed in their footsteps ever since.
A couple of weeks later, the sad news broke that David Greenfield had passed away. This is another name that you might not recognise immediately, but if I asked you to think about an absolute masterpiece track from a UK punk band that included a harpsichord in its musical arrangement, you might be able to work it out. Dave Greenfield was the keyboard player with the Stranglers and, while his distinctive playing and choice of sounds were part of what made the Stranglers special in the punk and post-punk era, it’s probably the following track that really shows just how good he was. (And, having rehearsed this track with a covers band many years ago, I can confirm that it’s a lot trickier to get right than you might think!)
Finally, we come to May 9th 2020 and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to need to explain who this guy is. A dynamo, a wild man, one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n’ roll and a musical force of nature, bar none. Farewell to the amazing artist who could get any joint jumping – Richard Wayne Penniman or, as he was much better known, Little Richard.
Thanks guys – you all made the world a better, more interesting and more musical place and you’ll be missed.