Don't Fear the Reaper

The annual return of the Greil Marcus Rock Death Meter

PC: 7 , FC: 4, M: 1. Total: 12

Buck Owens, 76, heart attack. Country Music Hall of Famer and primary architect of the Bakersfield Sound. Scored hits with "Together Again," "Love's Gonna Live Here" and "Act Naturally," which was recorded by the Beatles in 1965. With Roy Clark, Owens was long a cohost of Hee Haw. Enjoyed a sunset renaissance in the '80s with the advent of young acolyte Dwight Yoakam, with whom he recorded a no. 1 country hit with their duet on Owens's "Streets of Bakersfield."

PC: 10, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 12

Ruth Brown, 78, stroke/heart attack. R&B/rock and roll pioneer. Member of Rock and Blues halls of fame. Worked, long ago, with Houston's own Texas Johnny Brown. Also known as "Miss Rhythm," her hits propelled the then-fledgling Atlantic Records on to lasting success, so much so that the label was later called "The house that Ruth built." Late in life, advocated for musicians' rights and starred on Broadway, where she won a Tony. Her "This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'" is featured in the current Hummer H3 ad campaign.

PC: 10, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 12

Syd Barrett, 61, pancreatic cancer. Eccentric psychedelic pioneer and founding member of Pink Floyd, which he named by combining the names of two now-totally-obscure bluesmen. Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After parting with Pink Floyd, inspired both the song "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" and the album Wish You Were Here, on which "Shine" is the centerpiece. Cited as an influence by REM, Robyn Hitchcock, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, The Mars Volta, the entire Elephant 6 collective and too many other modern indie rockers to list here.

PC: 10, FC: 2, M: 1. Total: 13

Wilson "Wicked" Pickett, 64, heart attack. Among the funkiest of the soul men, the gruff-voiced Pickett's many hits included "634-5789," "Funky Broadway," "Land of 1000 Dances," "Mustang Sally" and "In the Midnight Hour." Once headlined a tour of American musicians to Ghana, a junket immortalized on the documentary Soul to Soul.

PC: 10, FC: 2, M: 1 Total: 13

Clifford Antone, 56, heart attack. Nightclub and record label owner, helped make Austin "The Live Music Capital of the World" and was instrumental in the early careers of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

PC: 7*, FC: 5, M: 1. Total: 13

* a "10" in Austin.

Desmond Dekker, 64, heart attack. Early popularizer of ska and reggae in Britain and America and author of the Jamaican classics "007 (Shanty Town)," "It Mek" and "Israelites," one of the catchiest songs of all time.

PC: 9, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 13

Freddy Fender, 69, lung cancer. Teary-voiced singer. Early on in his career, he was the Elvis Presley of the Valley, later a Corpus Christi/Houston-based country hitmaker responsible for swamp pop-tinged tunes like "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." Late-life renaissance with the Texas Tornados and Los Super Seven.

PC: 9, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 13

Gene Pitney, 66, coronary artery atherosclerosis. Chameleon-like pop-rocker who counted "Town Without Pity," "Hello Mary Lou," "Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa," "He's a Rebel," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "Only Love Can Break a Heart" among his hits. Once cut an album of duets with George Jones, and helped popularize the Rolling Stones in America. Was huge in Italy, and had a sideline in recording country music songs in Italian. Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

PC: 10, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 14

Ali "Farka" Toure, 66, bone cancer. Hypnotic Malian blues guitarist and singer, known as "the African John Lee Hooker." Won two Grammys and is up for a third next year.

PC: 9, FC: 5, M: 1. Total: 15

Vince Welnick, 55, suicide -- slit own throat. Former Tubes and Grateful Dead keyboardist. Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

PC: 6, FC: 2, M: 8. Total: 16

Jesse "Guitar" Taylor, 55, hepatitis C and cirrhosis. Incredible Austin guitar slinger who worked with Joe Ely and Billy Joe Shaver, among many others.

PC: 7, FC: 4, M: 5. Total: 16

Jay Dee, a.k.a. J Dilla, 32, congenital liver disease. Ingenious underground hip-hop producer, multi-instrumentalist and M.C. -- founding member of Detroit rap group Slum Village and a member of the Ummah -- A Tribe Called Quest's production team. Produced for Common, Ghostface Killah, Busta Rhymes, Macy Gray, Brand New Heavies, the Roots and Erykah Badu, among others.

PC: 7, FC: 8, M: 1. Total: 16

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