Remembering Jam Master Jay on his 50th Birthday With Five Overlooked Cuts

Categories: R.I.P.

Youngking11 via WikiMedia Commons
Jam Master Jay Mural at New York's 5 Pointz
Today would have been Run-DMC turntabilist Jam Master Jay's 50th birthday. Arguably the most influential DJ of all time, he's contributed not only to some of hip-hop and music of the 20th Century's finest moments, but always gave back to his community, encouraging music education and offering resources that ensure the ripple effects of his impact will be felt for years to come.

While we all know the classic iconic Run-DMC tracks that Jay was an important third of, there's plenty of other gems he's responsible for that deserve some shine. Here's five underappreciated Jam Master Jay moments.

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10 Punk and Metal Musicians Who Died in 2014

Categories: R.I.P.

Erick Hess
Oderus Urungus--RIP
As 2014 comes to an end, we reflect on all of those who have left this Earth in the past 365 days. 2014, like most years, has seen its ups and downs, including many from the world of punk and heavy metal, and this list is a celebration of their collective lives and music. 2014 was a particularly hard year for punk, with many veteran musicians in pivotal bands passing away. Here is our list of punk and metal musicians that we lost this year.

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R.I.P. Agent Orange Bassist James Levesque

Categories: R.I.P.

Sad news has come through the Orange County punk rock dispatches this last week: James Levesque, one of Agent Orange's original bassists, passed away on October 19.

Levesque joined the Fullerton-based band -- which all but defined the skate-punk genre -- in 1981 after Steve Soto (of the Adolescents) left, and stayed with them until 1988, when he was replaced by Brent Liles. Levesque performed on Agent Orange's biggest album, 1981's Living in Darkness, and helped write the record's first single, "Everything Turns Grey," among other songs. The album was released on seminal local indie label Posh Boy Records.

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Ikey Owens Was Long Beach's Ultimate Sonic Wingman

Categories: R.I.P.

Photo by Matt Cohn
Photo by Matt Cohn The Holden Community Wall, on 4th St. in Long Beach near Retro Row, has become a makeshift memorial to Ikey Owens.
For an interview in 2011, at 10 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday, Isaiah "Ikey" Owens insisted on meeting for drinks at the V Room, a dive bar on 4th Street in Long Beach.

As he sipped a Jim Beam neat, he talked about hanging out in the early days with pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas (who were playing the Super Bowl halftime show that year), why he was considering leaving the behemoth prog-rock arena band The Mars Volta, and the creative inroads he was making through his new fledging career as a producer and mentor.

He also discussed at length his not-so-solo-anymore project, Free Moral Agents, which grew from a bedroom recording experiment into a psych-y, jazzy, beat-pummeling collective that was already playing places like Low End Theory. Having spent most of his time on stage as someone else's hired gun, he liked that it allowed him to do the hiring for once.

Few local session musicians built out their careers by working across genres and in roles as diverse as those tackled by Owens.

For the last two decades, the 38-year-old Long Beach-bred keyboardist and producer collaborated and performed with dozens of bands both local and large, earning his most public praise (and one Grammy) for his work with Long Beach Dub Allstars, The Mars Volta and, most recently, Jack White.

See also: Ikey Owens, Long Beach Legend, Dead at 38

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Ikey Owens, Long Beach Legend, Dead at 38 [Update]

Categories: R.I.P.

John Gilhooley
Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, beloved Long Beach musician, producer and the keyboardist of Jack White's touring band, has died. According to Third Man Records' website, "Out of respect for Ikey, the remaining shows of the Jack White Tour in Mexico have been cancelled."

See also: [Photos] Remembering Ikey Owens

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Funeral Held For OC Rapper Pocccets, Killed in a Car Crash on the 91 Fwy

Categories: R.I.P.

Thumbnail image for poccetspic1.jpg
Pocccets a.k.a. Vape Hollywood--R.I.P.
OC's hip-hop community was dealt a tragedy last week when Matt Hughes (known locally as rapper "Pocccets" a.k.a. "Vape Hollywood") was killed in a car crash on the eastbound 91 Fwy on the early morning of Sunday, May 18. He was 29 years-old. The crash happened just west of Weir Canyon Rd. near a weigh station in the Anaheim Hills area as he was making his way to his current home Corona around 3:30 a.m.

The day he died, he and his group Vape Starz were to be one of the openers at the Observatory for L.A. rapper Ty $ Sign. He leaves behind a wife and 2 year-old son. As family and friends try to make sense out of what happened, Hughes' Facebook timeline is flooded with grief from those who knew him personally or through his music.

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Mike Atta, Punk Legend, Passes Away From Cancer

Josue Rivas/OC Weekly
Mike Atta, R.I.P.
Trailblazing punk guitarist Mike Atta died after a lengthy battle with cancer on Easter Sunday. Atta's band with his brothers Jeff and Bruce, the Middle Class, is often credited with being one of the first hardcore bands ever. The Santa Ana based band was active from 1977 to 1982, but inspired countless hardcore punk bands from OC and beyond for years to come.

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Nirvana's Best Underrated Songs

YouTube screenshot
It's hard to imagine, if not impossible, to wonder what Kurt Cobain would be doing today. When I first got word on April 7, 1994 that the singer, who was well on his way to reluctantly becoming a rock icon, was found dead in his Seattle home, I was in utter disbelief. For any person who grew up during the '90s, Cobain's suicide moved the needle in a way that's still impacts the world. With the Internet not what it is today, his death was something that didn't break instantaneously, but instead, trickled out through reports and via nightly news. There was something simpler about that era, which seems impossible to fathom in the world of Twitter. Many mark April 5 as the day to remember Cobain, which is true, but I mark April 7, since no one can really pinpoint the day he actually killed himself. Over the weekend, Muse and St. Vincent paid their respects by playing Nirvana covers at their respective shows. Though I highly doubt any of you would want to hear me sing, I'll pay my respect the best way I can: by celebrating Nirvana's most underrated songs.

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John Pinette Dies at 50. The Comedy World Mourns.

We had the pleasure of interviewing comedian John Pinette for the Weekly a few weeks ago and we just wanted to express our condolences to his family and say that we are also deeply saddened about the news of his sudden passing.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that stand-up comedian John Pinette died Saturday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Station Square. A supervisor with the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said Mr. Pinette had been suffering liver and heart disease. Examiners did not perform an autopsy, as Mr. Pinette's personal doctor signed off on his cause of death. Authorities suspect no foul play.

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Kurt Cobain's Thoughts on Life, In Illustrated Form

Jena Ardell
Kurt Cobain's life and death is unarguably the most discussed, dissected and speculated benchmark in the music industry. Now, 20 years after his death, we're still enamored with the man who sparked the grunge period and shaped the music of the 90s.

Despite the end of Cobain's life and career, headlines constantly emerge: "20 Years After Kurt's Death: What Changed and What Didn't..."; "New Death Scene Photos Released..."; "Intimate Photographs of Troubled Rock Star..."; "Here's What Kurt Cobain Would Look Like At Age 46." We just can't seem to get enough of the notorious Nirvana frontman.

It's no surprise that Nirvana is played on the radio as often as contemporary songs. Still, 20 years later, Cobain's music is reaching a new, core audience, many of whom weren't even born before Cobain died.

Here's what Cobain had to say about his life under the media's microscope.

Illustrated quotation above via Rolling Stone.

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