Rock historian and writer Robert Palmer died yesterday at the age of 52. He was the New York Times's first full-time rock critic writing from 1981-1988, and was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine since the 1970s. He's wrote several books on blues and rock and roll, and was the writer and music director for the award-winning documentary films, "The World According to John Coltrane," and "Deep Blues." He was chief advisor to the 1995 ten-part PBS documentary, "Rock & Roll: An Unruly History,".
Joey Ramone the lead singer of the punk band The Ramones. He died on Sunday at the age of 49. He had lymphoma. From their start in 1974, the Ramones combined fast, deafening guitar with precise drumming to create a hurricane of sound. Their songs had titles like Beat on the Brat, Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment and Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.
Sun Studios founder Sam Phillips died today in Memphis at the age of 80. He was revered as one of the leading catalysts in post-World War II American music. As a record producer in the 1950s and 60s, his recordings launched the careers of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, to name a few. This interview first aired September 15, 1997.
Guitarist Link Wray died on November 5 at the age of 76. He's credited with inventing the power chord in the 1950s. His first big recording hit was the 1958 instrumental Rumble. When he went to record the song, he wasn't happy with the sound on the amp, so he pierced holes in the speaker cone to create additional distortion. Guitarists including Pete Townshend and John Lennon were influenced by his work. Wray's other hits include Rawhide and the Batman theme.
Leiber, the lyricist behind "Jailhouse Rock," "Yakety Yak" and "Stand By Me," died Monday. He was 78. Fresh Air remembers the songwriter with excerpts from a 1991 interview with Leiber and his songwriting partner Mike Stoller.