Frank Zappa rarely followed trends, making music that was hard to categorize as rock, jazz, classical, or anything else. We remember Zappa’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Frank Zappa rarely followed trends, making music that was hard to categorize as rock, jazz, classical, or anything else. That explains why his music didn’t often crack the Top 40 … but it also helps explain why so many true music fans consider him one of the greatest of all time. Whether he was with the Mothers of Invention or solo, Zappa pushed the boundaries to create music that was innovative and unique. We remember Zappa’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2015: Robert Loggia, U.S. character actor who starred in such movies as “Scarface” and “Big” and on TV’s “The Sopranos,” dies at 85.
Loggia’s gruff voice and tough-guy looks found him plenty of work in the movies and on TV as both criminal and crime-fighter. He played a Miami drug lord usurped by Al Pacino in “Scarface” (1983), a sadistic crime boss in David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” (1997), and as violent ex-con Feech La Manna in several episodes of “The Sopranos.” Read more
2012: Vasily Belov, Russian author whose novels include “Eves,” “Business as Usual,” and “The Year of a Major Breakdown,” dies at 80.
Belov, born into a peasant family, had to start working while he was at school to help his family after his father was killed during World War II. He published his first book of poetry in 1961, and became widely known after he published the novel “Business as Usual” in 1966, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
Although his was not a well-known name, Sumlin was considered a blues legend whose virtuosic playing inspired the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and the Allman Brothers. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 43rd on its list of the 100 all-time greatest guitarists. (Sumlin placed above Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Buddy Holly.) Read more
2011: Sócrates, Brazilian star soccer player and medical doctor, dies of septic shock at 57.
On and off the field, Sócrates stood out above the rest, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His elegant style and his deep involvement with politics made him a unique figure in Brazilian soccer, setting him apart from the players of his time and even of today. Read more
2009: Eddie Fatu, Samoan-American professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment whose ring name was Umaga, dies at 36 of acute toxicity involving several drugs.
2007: Chip Reese, U.S. professional poker player and gambler who won three World Series of Poker championships, dies at 56.
After attending Dartmouth College, Reese was on his way to Stanford business school in the early 1970s when he stopped by a Las Vegas poker room and won big, said World Series of Poker media director Nolan Dalla. “He just accidentally stumbled into Las Vegas and never left,” Dalla said, according to Reese’s obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
2007: Pimp C, U.S. rap music artist and producer who was a founding member of the Underground Kingz, dies of a drug overdose at 33.
Chad Lamont Butler, who grew up in Texas, came from a musical lineage. His father was a professional trumpet player, and the rapper studied classical music in high school. “That’s how I came up listening to everything,” he told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview. “Music don’t have no color or no face. It’s a universal language. I think being exposed to all that kind of stuff influences the way I make records,” the AP said in his obituary. Read more
2006: James Kim, U.S. television personality, technology analyst, and product reviewer for the former TechTV international cable television network, dies of hypothermia at 35.
A search helicopter spotted Kim’s body about a mile from where he set out in Oregon’s snowy Klamath Mountains, two days after his wife and two daughters were rescued from the vehicle, stuck on a remote road, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Investigators believe he traveled about 8 miles in total, and said there was no way he could have reached the car directly from where he was found. Read more
1993: Frank Zappa, U.S. musician and composer who led the Mothers of Invention and was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, dies of prostate cancer at 52.
Zappa was a prolific composer and musician. He released more than 60 records during his lifetime, and a few more containing unheard material came out posthumously. When he died, The New York Times called him “rock’s most committed iconoclast.” The word “iconoclast” also popped up in a Time magazine tribute, in the headline of Zappa’s Los Angeles Times obituary, and in a Washington Post appreciation. He was, the Post noted, “the most caustic iconoclast of the rock-and-roll era.” But Zappa has a lesser-known legacy: He inspired revolutions. Read more
1979: Robert Karnes, U.S. television actor who co-starred on the NBC crime drama “The Lawless Years,” dies at 62.
1976: Tommy Bolin, U.S. guitarist known best for his time with the band Deep Purple, dies of a drug overdose at 25.
1973: Michael O’Shea, U.S. character actor whose films include “Lady of Burlesque” and “It’s a Pleasure,” dies at 67.
1944: Roger Bresnahan, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame catcher and manager who played on the New York Giants team that won the World Series in 1905, dies at 65.
1902: Charles Dow, U.S. journalist who founded The Wall Street Journal, dies at 51.