Friday, December 28, 2012

Bradenton, Sarasota musicians among the greats we lost in 2012

Donna Summer, who died May 17, had a home in Sarasota County.

She reigned as disco's supreme diva.

"Duck" played bass on some of the greatest rock and soul records of all time.

"Rhino" was one of the original Southern rock and psychedelic guitar heroes.

Donna Summer, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt were three musicians we lost in 2012 who lived in the Bradenton area or Sarasota.

As the year comes to an end, let's take a look back at these three musicians as well as other greats that we lost including Whitney Houston, Etta James, Robin Gibb, Ravi Shankar, Dave Brubeck, Earl Scruggs and Levon Helm.

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Reinhardt, who died Jan. 2 at Manatee Memorial Hospital, can be heard on Iron Butterfly’s 1970 album “Metamorphosis.” Two years later, the Manatee County native cofounded Captain Beyond, which released a self-titled album on famed Southern rock label Capricorn Records in 1972 and another, “Sufficiently Breathless,” in 1973.

Mack Doss, left, and Larry Reinhardt in 2004.

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Reinhardt began his career in the 1960s performing around Bradenton and Sarasota before he relocated to Jacksonville to play with future Allman Brothers Band members Dickey Betts (guitar/vocals) and Berry Oakley (bass) in the group Second Coming.

By 2004, Reinhardt had teamed with his old pal Mack Doss, who had been a member of Classics IV, which are most famous for the 1968 smash “Spooky.” Doss-Rhino played places like the Cortez Kitchen, Grego’s in Palma Sola and D Coy Ducks on Holmes Beach.

Reinhardt, a 1966 Southeast High School grad, formed Rhino and the Posse and released his final album, “Back in the Day,” about a year before his death. In addition to playing lead guitar, he wrote all of the songs. Don Bonzi joined him on guitar. The rest of the “posse” consisted of members from Betts’ Great Southern group: Mike Kach (vocals/keyboards), Frankie Lombardi (drums/vocals) and Pedro Arevalo (bass).

“He was so excited when he was writing songs for that album,” Kach said. “It was amazing the amount of enthusiasm he had for his music and playing music.”

In May, we lost Dunn and Summer.

Dunn's loss hit me especially hard.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's brilliant bass playing is all over some of the greatest popular recordings ever made, including many of my favorites.

From Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks, Dunn sweetened their sounds.

He and wife June quietly lived in Manatee County.

And I got to spend some wonderful time talking with them backstage at the Sarasota Blues Festival.

Especially at the one in 2011.

Donald 'Duck' Dunn with Wade Tatangelo at the Sarasota Blues Fest, Nov. 5, 2011. Photo by Caroline Sansone provided by the Sarasota Blues Fest.

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Alas, Dunn died May 13, at the age of 70, while touring Tokyo with, among others, close friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper.

Shocked and sad, I talked to longtime Sarasota Blues Festival director Barbara Strauss for a story that ran on the front page of the Herald.

She brought Dunn's famed band, Booker T. and the MGs, to the Sarasota Blues Festival in 1999.

Strauss recalled spending time with "Duck" and June at their home on Snead Island.

"I knew him on two levels," she said. "Before I met him, I was blown away by all the great music he played on but he was also a great husband, a great father, a great friend and a just a humble guy who enjoyed life."

Strauss ran the Sarasota Blues Festival for nearly two decades starting in 1993. The famed bass player and his wife were regulars at the annual event, often spotted hanging in the VIP area with people such as AC/DC singer and Sarasota resident Brian Johnson.

"They were royalty to us," Strauss said of the Dunns.

A mere four days later after Dunn's death, the singer of disco anthems such as "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and "She Works Hard for the Money" died in Naples.

To the surprise of many, Donna Summer had been living as Donna Sudano with husband Bruce Sudano in a 4 bed/4 bath home in Englewood, according to Sarasota County records obtained by the Bradenton Herald.

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Here is a list, culled from an extensive AP story, of some of the musicians who died in 2012. The cause of death is cited for younger people if available.

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Larry Reinhardt, 63, guitar great can be heard on Iron Butterfly’s 1970 album “Metamorphosis.” and albums by Captain Beyond, which the group he co-founded. Jan. 2. Complications from sclerosis of the liver. Read full story at

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Jimmy Castor, 71. Funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter whose tune, "It's Just Begun," morphed into an anthem for generations of musical acts. Jan. 16.

Johnny Otis, 90. He wrote and recorded the R&B classic "Willie and the Hand Jive" and for decades evangelized black music to white audiences as a bandleader and radio host. Jan. 17.

Etta James, 73. Blues singer best known for her performance of the enduring classic "At Last." Jan. 20. Complications from leukemia.


Don Cornelius, 75. As host of "Soul Train," he helped break down racial barriers and broaden the reach of black culture with funky music, groovy dance steps and cutting edge style. Feb. 1. Self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Whitney Houston, 48. She ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image ruined by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Feb. 11. Accidentally drowned in a bathtub.

Davy Jones, 66. Actor turned singer who helped propel the TV rock band The Monkees to the top of the pop charts. Feb. 29. Heart attack.


Robert B. Sherman, 86. Songwriter who wrote "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" in "Mary Poppins" and other songs for Disney classics. March 5.

James T. "Jimmy" Ellis, 74. As frontman for The Trammps, he belted out the refrain "Burn, baby burn!" in the 1970s-era disco hit "Disco Inferno." March 8.

Michael Hossack, 65. Longtime Doobie Brothers drummer whose work is heard on the hits "Listen To The Music" and "China Grove." March 12. Cancer.

Earl Scruggs, 88. Bluegrass legend and banjo pioneer who profoundly influenced country music with Bill Monroe in the 1940s and later with guitarist Lester Flatt. March 28.


Dick Clark, 82. Ever-youthful television entrepreneur who helped bring rock 'n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," and later produced and hosted game shows and the year-end countdown from Times Square. April 19.

Levon Helm, 71. Key member of the rock group The Band who lent his voice to classics like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." April 19. Read 2005 interview I did with Helm to advance his performance at the 2005 Sarasota Film Festival at


Lloyd Brevett, 80. Renowned double bassist who helped carry ska music from Jamaica to the world as a founding member of the band The Skatalites. May 3.

Adam Yauch, 47. Also known as MCA, the gravelly voiced rapper helped make the Beastie Boys one of the seminal groups in hip-hop. May 4. Cancer. Read "Top 10: Beastie Boys songs" at

Donald "Duck" Dunn, 70. Bassist who helped create the gritty Memphis soul sound at Stax Records in the 1960s as part of the legendary group Booker T. and the MGs lived in Manatee County. May 13. Read full story at

Chuck Brown, 75. Widely acclaimed as the "Godfather of go-go" for styling a unique mix of funk, soul and Latin party sounds. May 16.

Doug Dillard, 75. Banjo player who helped shape rock 'n' roll and introduce the nation to bluegrass music during a run on "The Andy Griffith Show." May 16.

Donna Summer, 63. Disco queen whose pulsing anthems such as "Last Dance," ''Love to Love You Baby" and "Bad Girls" became the soundtrack for a glittery age of drugs, dance and flashy clothes. She had a home in Sarasota County. May 17. Read "Top 10: Donna Summer songs" at

Robin Gibb, 62. One of the three Bee Gees whose falsetto harmonies powered such hits as "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" and defined the flashy disco era. May 20.

Eddie Blazonczyk, 70. Grammy Award-winning polka great who earned the nickname "Polka King" after starting his own band and label. May 21.

Doc Watson, 89. Grammy-award winning folk musician whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world. May 29.


Herb Reed, 83. Last surviving original member of 1950s vocal group the Platters who sang on hits like "Only You" and "The Great Pretender." June 4.

Richard Adler, 90. Composer-lyricist who won Tony Awards for such Broadway musicals as "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees" and who produced President John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration featuring a breathy Marilyn Monroe. June 21.


Kitty Wells, 92. Singer whose hits such as "Making Believe" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" made her the first female superstar of country music. July 16.


Chris Lighty, 44. A hip-hop mogul who helped the likes of Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey attain hit records and lucrative careers outside music. Aug. 30. Apparent suicide.


Hal David, 91. Stylish, heartfelt lyricist who teamed with Burt Bacharach on dozens of songs for movies, television and a variety of recording artists in the 1960s and beyond. Sept. 1.

Joe South, 72. Singer-songwriter who performed 1960s and '70s hits such as "Games People Play" and "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" and penned songs including "Down in the Boondocks" for other artists. Sept. 5.

Andy Williams, 84. Silky-voiced, clean-cut crooner whose hit recording "Moon River" and years of popular Christmas TV shows brought him fans the world over. Sept. 25.


Dave Brubeck, 91. Jazz composer and pianist whose pioneering style in pieces such as "Take Five" caught listeners' ears with exotic, challenging rhythms. Dec. 5.

Jenni Rivera, 43. California-born singer who became a superstar adored by millions in a male-dominated genre of Mexican-American music. Dec. 9. Plane crash.

Ravi Shankar, 92. The sitar virtuoso who became a hippie musical icon of the 1960s after hobnobbing with the Beatles and who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over an eight-decade career. Dec. 11.

File photo of Donna Summer performing at the opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's summer season at the Hollywood Bowl by Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

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