In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Barron, Ronnie: Ronnie Barron was best known for his work as a session musician, playing keyboards and organ with Paul Butterfield’s Better Days band, Dr. John, Howard Johnson, Sonny and Cher, Tom Waits and The Animals’ Eric Burdon.  Barron died March 20, 1997, from heart-related complications.  He was 53.

Bell, Richard: Keyboardist — and former Woodstock resident — Richard Bell passed away June 15, 2007, after a bout with cancer.  He was 61.  Hailing from Canada, Bell was a member of The Hawks in the late 1960s, which also included Levon Helm.  He replaced Richard Manuel when The Band reformed in 1991, following Manuel’s death.  And he worked with legends like Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, John Sebastian and many others.  Bell performed at Helm’s Midnight Ramble in January 2006 with The Honky Tonk Gurus.  He will be deeply missed by all.

Burgh, Steve: Producer, engineer, songwriter Steve Burgh played and/or collaborated with great legends, such as David Bromberg, Billy Joel, Richie Havens, The Ramones and many others.  He was the guitarist on Joel’s album “The Stranger,” which won a Grammy award for the song “Just the Way You Are.” Burgh played locally in the Kurt Henry Band, with fellow members Henry, Alan Groth, Eric Parker and Cheryl Lambert.  Burgh died of a heart attack Feb. 7, 2005, at the age of 54. At the time of his death, Burgh was owner of Club 33 and was the owner/engineer of Studio 33 in Kingston.  On April 24, 2005, friends, family and fellow musicians gathered to celebrate his life and career in a 6-hour musical tribute at Joyous Lake in Woodstock.

Butterfield, Paul: Blues master Paul Butterfield lived and worked in Woodstock in the early 1970s. He played with Michael Bloomfield, backed Bob Dylan, performed at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival and worked with Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs and other blues/rock greats. He died in 1987 in Los Angeles of a drug overdose. To this day, Butterfield stories are plentiful in town and his musical influence has remained powerful.

Cash, Johnny: Arkansas-born country music singer/songwriter J. R. Cash is considered one of the most influential — and most recognizable — musicians in history.  His classic all-black attire is unmistakable, hence his trademark nickname “The Man in Black.”  And his voice is unforgettable.  Cash was a Woodstock resident in the late ’60s where he became close friends with Bob Dylan. Cash passed away September 12, 2003, at the age of 71.


Coryell, Julie: Singer, songwriter and actress Julie Coryell died May, 10, 2009, in Poughkeepsie.  She was the former wife and manger of legendary jazz guitarist Larry Coryell and mother to musicians Murali and Julian Coryell.  In addition to co-writing songs and performing with then-husband Larry, Coryell appeared on Broadway and co-authored a best-selling book, featuring interviews and photos of some of the greatest musicians in the jazz-fusion genre.  She relocated to Woodstock in the mid-1980s, where she lived until 2003.  During that time, she founded the Woodstock Experimental Writers Theater.

Danko, Rick: Dec. 10, 1999 was an empty day in Woodstock. On that day, the world lost a legend, and Woodstock lost one of its own – Canadian Rick Danko, legendary bass player and singer for The Band, died just a few days shy of his 57th birthday. Danko was a visionary, a neighbor, a friend and an ingrained part of Woodstock community life and culture. Woodstock never has and never will stop missing him.

Evers, Alf: Author and historian Alf Evers died in his sleep on Dec. 29, 2004 at his home near Woodstock.  He was 99.  Evers penned more than 50 children’s books and several historical books about the Catskills.  And he was widely considered Woodstock’s town historian.  A tribute was held at the Bearsville Theater on Jan. 9, 2005, with over 400 people in attendance.

Frank, Jackson:  Composer and singer Jackson C. Frank’s musical journey began early.  After years of traveling throughout England and the U.S., Frank based himself in Woodstock in 1969 in order to continue writing songs and performing.  Frank died on March 3, 1999 at the age of 55.

Grennan, Winston: Drummer Winston Grennan was born in Duckenfield, Jamaica and is known for his credit to the “one-drop” sound in reggae music.  He performed and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Garland Jeffreys and with his own band, Winston Grennan Ska-Rock Band.  Grennan moved from Woodstock to Baltimore, MD, in 1992 and later died of lung and bone cancer at the age of 60.

Grossman, Albert: Legendary music manager and recording executive Albert B. Grossman is best known for managing Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin and others — The Band, Richie Havens, Todd Rundgren, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul & Mary. He personally financed and established Bearsville Studio and the Bearsville record label. Grossman died in 1986 and is buried in the Bearsville Complex.

Helm, Levon:   To this day a Woodstocker in every sense of the elusive word, Band legend Levon Helm was sometimes visible around town and usually at work in his studio in the hills here. The famed drummer of The Band grew up on a farm in Arkansas. He sprung from his country music roots to the Hawks, which had a couple of early hits, before becoming a member of Bob Dylan’s band when Dylan went electric. It was in nearby West Saugerties, at a big pink house rented by Band bassist Rick Danko, that Helm and the boys began creating a string of classic albums that would help redefine the rock/country music landscape and ultimately find The Band immortalized in the Martin Scorsese film, “The Last Waltz.” The Band went on to produce a number of classics – “Music From Big Pink,” “Stage Fright” and “Jericho.” In 1994 Helm and The Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All along, Helm stayed busy – in films, on the road (including with Ringo Starr) and at home, where he has played frequently and usually in intimate settings. His Midnight Ramble Sessions at his studios are becoming classics. These sessions, are still open to a limited number of ticket-buying fans, have included Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, John Sebastian, Garth Hudson and Levon’s daughter, Amy, to name a few. It’s roots music at its best – and a new Woodstock tradition is being hatched in the process.  Helm passed away on April 19, 2011 after battling cancer.  He was surrounded by his loving family and friends and told them to keep the Midnight Rambles going.  Thousands of fans came to Woodstock to pay tribute to the legendary musician at an open memorial at the Studio.  Levon Helm is buried in the Woodstock Cemetery near his friend and band mate Rick Danko.  The staff at Levon Helm Studios is keeping Helm’s memory and last wishes alive with continued Rambles.

Hendrix, Jimi: Guitarist Jimi Hendrix reigned as an electric rock guitar superstar/showman/hero/icon ever since grinding his guitar with his teeth and setting it on fire. And he performed his famous “machine-gun interpretation” of “The Start Spangled Banner” to close the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival. He died in London on Sept. 18, 1970 from drug-related complications. The time he spent in Woodstock is debatable, but nonetheless written in to town lore. Rumors range from recording at what is now the town’s lone alternative movie theater to countless “I remember when Jimi stopped by….” stories.

Herald, John:The onetime voice of bluegrass’ Greenbriars, John Herald was a Woodstock mainstay — his distinctive voice and songwriting are legend in these parts. For the rest of the world, his songs have been recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Peter, Paul & Mary, Maria Muldaur and others. Herald died on July 18, 2005.

Hodgkinson, Mick (“Johnny Average”): England-born guitarist Mick Hodgkinson — a.k.a. “Johnny Average” — came to Woodstock in the late 1970s. He formed his first band shortly afterwards, called Johnny Average and the Falcons. The band became known as “Woodstock’s band” during the late ’70s. Hodgkinson later formed The Johnny Average Band and signed on with Albert Grossman. Hodgkinson passed away June 18, 2007, after a bout with cancer.

Joplin, Janis: Janis Joplin is one of the most recognizable white female rock and blues singers of the 1960s and all time. She is best known for her hit single “Me and Bobby McGee,” a posthumous release in 1971. She was managed by Albert Grossman under the Bearsville label and performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.  Joplin struggled for years with drug addiction and alcoholism, dying of a heroin overdose Oct. 1970 in a Hollywood hotel.

Leon, Rob: Although he left Woodstock years ago, Rob Leon’s burley warmth and quiet, soulful demeanor is still remembered throughout the region, mainly because of his work with Dan Brubeck and The Dolphins.  Rob passed away in Key West, FL, in 2004. His passing numbed many in town. He left a powerful, endearing legacy.

Mansfield, Killian:  Woodstock-based ukulele prodigy Killian Mansfield recorded his “Somewhere Else” CD just before entering hospice care in early 2009, after a long bout with a rare form of cancer.  “Somewhere Else” features performances by famed Band drummer — and fellow Woodstocker — Levon Helm, Levon’s daughter Amy Helm, John Sebastian, Todd Rundgren, The B-52’s Kate Pierson, fiddler Jay Unger and Dr. John, as well as many others.  Mansfield was diagnosed at the age of 11 with synovial sarcoma and began undergoing aggressive treatment.  He passed away August 20, 2009, at the age of 16.  He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Manuel, Richard:  Canadian Richard Manuel was one of the original members of The Band, playing the piano and drums and singing lead and backup vocals.  Before joining The Band, Manuel was a member of the Hawks, along with Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson.  Throughout his time with The Band, Manuel was troubled by alcohol and drug problems and on March 4, 1986, he hanged himself in a motel room in Florida.

Merians, Ron:  Brooklyn-born Ron Merians was the creator/owner of the Joyous Lake, a local music venue that promoted cutting-edge artists and showcased many legendary performers who were recording in town at the time.  The small town venue became an integral part of Woodstock’s music culture during the 1970s.  In 1989, Merians, 55, suffered a massive brain aneurysm and died.

Neil, Fred: Blues and folk singer/songwriter Fred Neil is best known for writing two Top 40 hits: Roy Orbison’s “Candy Man” and Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin.” Additionally, Neil penned songs for other legendary artists, including Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and James Taylor, just to name a few.  Neil left Woodstock in the mid-’70s and moved to Florida.  He died July 7, 2001, from cancer.

Newman, David “Fathead”: Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman died in Kingston on Jan. 20, 2009, from pancreatic cancer.  He was 75.  Newman was best known for his work with Ray Charles in the ’50s and ’60s.  He also worked with numerous jazz — and non-jazz — musicians, including: James Clay, King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, Red Garland, Eddie Harris, Herbie Mann, Art Blakely and Dr. John, a collaboration that earned him a 1990 Grammy nomination.

Pacheco, Paul: Musician, friend and Woodstock Music Shop employee Paul Pacheco passed away July 20, 2009, after a long battle with prostate cancer.  Paul was a fine guitar and bass player.  He and his brother, folk legend Tom Pacheco, formed the Raggamuffins in 1966 and moved to Greenwich Village.  Here, they found themselves opening for Jimmy James and the Blue Flames — Jimmy James would later become Jimi Hendrix.  Paul also played with John Lee Hooker.  Several years ago, he relocated to Woodstock to be closer to his brother and began work at the shop in spring of 2008, shortly before the cancer returned.  Paul will be deeply missed by all.


Ronson, Mick: Born in England, guitarist/songwriter Mick Ronson is best remembered as a sideman for such legends as David Bowie and Ian Hunter.  Ronson worked with Bowie from 1969 until 1973; he joined Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder” tour in 1975.  Ronson was a Woodstock resident for years and is still remembered fondly around town.  He died of cancer in 1993.

Starer, Robert: Composer and pianist Robert Starer was born in Vienna, Austria. He studied at NY’s Juilliard School, where he later taught composition. Starer is best known for his composition for the 1962 ballet Phaedra and his “Sketches in Color” piece. He died April 22, 2001 from heart failure at the age of 77 and is buried in Woodstock’s Artists’ Cemetery.

Traum, Artie: Award-winning, Woodstock-based singer/songwriter Artie Traum was born in the Bronx and worked the music scene in Greenwich Village. Traum moved to Woodstock in the late ’60s, producing records and writing film soundtracks. He and his brother, Happy, united in 1970 and were managed by Albert Grossman, legendary music manager. Traum passed away on July 20, 2008, after an illness.  He was 65.

Windo, Gary:  England-born saxophonist Gary Windo worked with numerous artists throughout the years, including Carla Bley, Jack Bruce, Don Cherry, Chick Corea and others.  Windo eventually relocated to Woodstock with wife Pam and, by the mid 1980s, was performing as a semi-regular with NRBQ, Todd Rundgren, the Psychedelic Furs and others. Windo died on July 25, 1992 at the age of 50.

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