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Stairway to Heaven

Gauging 2005's rock deaths with the Greil Marcus Death Meter

Cajun fiddler par excellence Rufus Thibodeaux, 71, natural causes
PC: 6, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 8

Bread founding member Jimmy Griffin, cancer
PC: 6, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 8

Molly Hatchet singer Danny Joe Brown, 53, pneumonia
PC: 5, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 9

Blue Cheer founding member Jerry Russell, 60, myelodysplasia
PC: 5, FC: 2, M: 1. Total: 9

Synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog, 71, cancer
PC: 7, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 9

Reggae singer-songwriter Justin Hinds, 62, cancer
PC: 5, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 9

John Fred & the Playboys front man John Fred Gourrier, 63, kidney failure
PC: 6, FC: 2, M: 1. Total: 9

Rock/rockabilly wildman and chicken devotee Hasil Adkins, 68, natural causes
PC: 4, FC: 4, M: 1. Total: 9

Manager, performer and songwriter Merle Kilgore, 70, cancer
PC: 7*, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 9
*In addition to working with Hank Williams and Hank Jr., Kilgore also co-wrote "Ring of Fire"

Traffic drummer and singer Jim Capaldi, 61, stomach cancer
PC: 8, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 10

Exotica patriarch Martin Denny, 94, natural causes
PC: 8, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 10

Austin musician and discoverer of Wayne Hancock, Don Walser and Kimmie Rhodes Tiny McFarland, 57, hepatitis C
PC: 6, FC: 1, M: 3*. Total: 10
*Hep C is the rock and roll disease, thus the extra points

Country, rockabilly, gospel and R&B pianist Big Al Downing, 65, leukemia
PC: 7, FC: 2, M: 1. Total: 10

New Orleans R&B singer Shirley Goodman, 69, natural causes
PC: 7, FC: 2, M: 1. Total: 10

Country singer Sammi Smith, 61, emphysema
PC: 6, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 10

Fat Possum bluesman Paul "Wine" Jones, 59, cancer
PC: 5, FC: 4, M: 1. Total: 10

Fat Possum bluesman R.L. Burnside, 79, heart attack
PC: 8, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 10

Smooth-voiced Cuban son singer Ibrahim Ferrer, 78, emphysema
PC: 8, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 10

Chicano music patriarch Lalo Guerrero, 89, natural causes
PC: 9*, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 10
*Extra point for inspiring Los Lobos to write "Mas y Mas," their most rockin' song ever

Old-time, country and bluegrass fiddler extraordinaire Vassar Clements, 77, cancer
PC: 8, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 10

Chuck Berry pianist and rock patriarch Johnnie Johnson, 80, natural causes
PC: 9, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 11

Jazz-funk titan Jimmy Smith, 79, natural causes
PC: 9, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 11

Soul-bluesman Tyrone Davis, 66, stroke
PC: 7, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 11

Country singer-songwriter and championship rodeo cowboy Chris LeDoux, 56, liver cancer
PC: 6, FC: 4, M: 1. Total: 11

Jazz singer Shirley Horn, 71, diabetes
PC: 7, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 11

Texas soul/R&B singer, songwriter and producer Willie Hutch, 60, causes undisclosed
PC: 8*, FC: 4, M: 1. Total: 13
*Extra points above and beyond his own recordings for writing songs like the Jackson 5's "Got to Be There," "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "I'll Be There"

Hard-edged bluegrass and country singer-guitarist Jimmy Martin, a.k.a. the King of Bluegrass and Mr. Good N' Country, 77, natural causes
PC: 9, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 11

Soul/bluesman Little Milton, 70, stroke
PC: 9, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 13

Rock, surf and rockabilly guitar god Link Wray, 76, heart attack
PC: 9, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 13

Punk-funk pioneer Randy "Biscuit" Turner of the Big Boys, 56, hepatitis C
PC: 7, FC: 4, M: 3*. Total: 14
*See comment at Tiny McFarland's entry

Guitar Wolf bassist Hideaki Sekiguchi, a.k.a. Billy Wolf, 38, heart attack
PC: 6, FC: 6, M: 4. Total: 14

Smooth megaplatinum R&B crooner Luther Vandross, 54, stroke
PC: 10, FC: 2, M: 3*. Total: 15
*Extra rock points for report that he was using Krispy Kreme doughnuts as hamburger buns mere weeks before what proved to be his fatal stroke

Musical embodiment of the Gulf Coast Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, 81, cancer
PC: 9, FC: 2, M: 7*. Total: 18
*Extra points for refusing treatment for his cancer in favor of continuing to smoke pot and retreating from Katrina not to Houston, where M.D. Anderson awaited, but to Orange, because that was where he was from and where he wanted to die

Alternative roots-rock singer-guitarist Chris Whitley, 45, lung cancer
PC: 8, FC: 6, M: 5*. Total: 19
*Like Brown, Whitely tried to refuse to let a little thing like terminal lung cancer get in the way of his doing what he loved: playing music

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