Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Writing A Riff Is A Combination Of What We Have Heard Before

Have a drink for creativity.

Even if we think our favourites are original, trust me, they are not. For an artist to create music, they need to hear music. And when you hear music, you write music in the style of what you have heard. You use chords and melodies from song you have heard. Nobody lives in a vacuum.

In the end it took eight unknown jurors to decide this.

The funny thing here is the Copyright Law that Corporations orchestrated via Government lobbying in the Seventies, is getting used by others to now sue those same corporations who hold the copyrights to songs. Page and Plant sold their rights to Warner for a lot of money.

But seriously, if Copyright is operating how it is meant to work, once the creator dies, all of their creations become part of the public domain. Instead, Randy California’s songs became part of a business model for a corporation. In this case, the Trustee’s of Randy’s Estate.

Remember when the lawyers for Randy California’s trustee Michael Skidmore, asked for a $1 settlement along with a writing credit for Spirit guitarist Randy California and any future profits would then be received by the Trustee’s of California’s estate. Yep, I really love how copyright is used as a pension fund for people who really are not eligible to gain from it.

And what about the creative accounting from both sides.

The Trustee’s for Randy California estimated that the song earned close to $60 million between 2011 to 2014, citing a music publishing deal that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant signed with Warner Music. However, the accountant used by the Jimmy Page and Robert Plant legal team, said that Jimmy Page earned $615,000 and Robert Plant earned  $532,000 for the song. There is a massive disconnect there.

Either way, that’s some serious dough and when you add the money that other songs in their catalogue would earn, it adds up to a lot of money.

But some one is not telling the truth and when it comes to the accounting of music, the truth is the last thing being told. There are so many skeletons and the only way to find out the truth is a federal investigation.

The part the troubles me the most is how Michael Skidmore is trying to present a picture that what Randy California created is so original and free from any influences. And that is just not true.What Randy created is a sum of his influences. It’s not original and in no way unique.

And neither is Jimmy Page’s assertion that what he creates is so original and free from any influences. All music is influenced by what came before it and by what we experience.

But of course, Skidmore and his legal team are not happy with the outcome and plan to appeal. What a dead set joke and copyright is a joke as it currently stands.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

What If Led Zeppelin Decided To Start Taking Bands To Court for Copying Them?

The “Stairway To Heaven” case is the tip of the iceberg for cases like this.

Mark my words, Metallica (or the corporations who will own the Metallica copyrights in the years ahead) will be sued for plagiarism by the corporations and heirs of artists from the NWOBHM movement that Metallica used on their first three albums, and the California skate-punk band they ripped off for “Enter Sandman”.

Remember Copyright was designed to encourage creativity, but in the hands of corporations and heirs of the actual creators (who never should have held the Copyright of a deceased artist), copyright is now building up to have the opposite effect, “discouraging, rather than stimulating, music creativity.

As the Conversation article states;

I don’t think that it is appropriate to consider the act of devising a tune that simply has the same “feel” and “groove” as another as copyright infringement. This is how music creativity often works. Musicians frequently build upon earlier arrangements and styles, and so the increasing occurrence of cases such as these should give us pause.”

“Borrowing from earlier pieces is a structural element of music creation in many genres (a tune cannot always be created from scratch by just improvising). Classical music composers such as Handel, Beethoven, Shubert, Mozart, Bach and Puccini all significantly borrowed from earlier colleagues. The same holds true for jazz (which has built upon popular music and opera), rockabilly (influenced by country), rhythm and blues (which derives from boogie-woogie and gospel) and the Jamaican music scene (where traditionally covering and arranging each other’s tunes was widespread and largely accepted).”

Now, the term “original” means “not the same as anything or anyone else and therefore special and interesting”. It would be difficult to find a musician who has never listened to music written by someone else.

And yes, there are artists that did do something that “sounded not like anything else”, however if you take away the sonics, the root notes of every song are tied back to a composition that came before it and so forth. Even the evil sounding tri-tone made famous in the song “Black Sabbath” has its roots to classical music. The whole British Rock invasion of the Sixties was tied to the American blues of the Thirties.

It’s pretty safe to say that the majority of music out there is unoriginal.

Just think of how many metal and hard rocks songs have a riff over an A pedal point or an E pedal point that sounds similar in feel and groove?

But for some reason, our litigious society wants music to follow the same citing mechanisms as a University essay, with citations, footnotes and a discography of music used as an influence for the song.

At the root of it all is the descending bass line, played in the same key and an attorney called Francis Malofiy, who is well-known at bringing copyright infringement suits against any song that sounds similar to another because the acts/estates he represents are so original and their music could not have been influenced by other .

It’s easy to sue Led Zeppelin, because others have done it and its well-known that Jimmy Page likes to build on past works. But man, Led Zeppelin, actually Page and Plant in particular can sue a whole generation of artists for copying their feel and groove.

Let’s start with the most obvious (of the top of my head);

  • Robert Plant to sue David Coverdale from Whitesnake for copying Plant’s vocal feel in every Whitesnake song between 1978 and 1982.
  • Robert Pant to sue Lenny Wolf from Kingdom Come for copying Plant’s vocal feel and phrasing in every Kingdom Song between 1988 and 2016.
  • Jimmy Page to sue Lenny Wolf from Kingdom Come for copying “Kashmir” and calling the song “Get It On”.
  • Robert Plant to sue Randy Jackson from Zebra for copying Plant’s vocal feel
  • Jimmy Page and the Bonham estate to sue Coheed and Cambria for the song “Welcome Home” because it sounds a lot like “Kashmir” and for the drums having the same feel and groove as “Kashmir”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Tool because songs on “Aenima” sound a lot like “No Quarter”.
  • Jimmy Page and Robert Plant suing Billy Squier for the verse in “You Should Be High Lover” because it sounds a lot like “Black Dog”.
  • Jimmy Page and Robert Plant suing Wolfmother for the song “Woman”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Jet, for the song “Cold Hard Bitch” and how it sounds a lot like “Communication Breakdown”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Soundgarden for “Pretty Noose” because it sounds like the love child of “Kashmir” and “Whole Lotta Love”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Steve Vai for a three note sequence in his song “The Attitude Song” that is derived from “The Ocean”.

See the absurdity of it all.

I am sure there are a million bands out there that have ripped off Led Zeppelin and there are a million acts that Led Zeppelin has ripped off. But Led Zeppelin made what came before, BETTER and made a lot of MONEY from it.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Stupidity Incorporated

Stupidity just doesn’t seem to go away these days. Last month the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) promoted it’s World Intellectual Property Day with a slogan from a Bob Marley and the Wailers song called “Get Up, Stand Up”. WIPO’s theme was “Get Up, Stand Up. For Music”.

Did you know that a judge ruled against Bob Marley’s heirs a few years who sought to regain control of Marley’s copyrights from Universal Music claiming that Marley wrote the song as a work made for hire and thus Universal could keep the copyright, and not give it back to the Marley Estate.

Now “work for hire” means that an artist was commissioned to write a song to the exact specifications of the record label. Wikipedia states “work for hire” in the following way;

A work made for hire is a work created by an employee as part of his or her job, or a work created on behalf of a client where all parties agree in writing to the WFH designation.

I can’t believe how a judge would seriously believe that the record label at the time “Island Records” would have given the song titles to Bob Marley and told him the theme of what the song should be about.

Anyone involved in music knows too well that is not the case for at all. “Get Up, Stand Up” was written after Marley toured Haiti and the poverty that he was confronted with in that country.

As the Techdirt article points out, you have an organisation so dumb and out of touch with culture that it using a song from an artist that has been hijacked by the corporations who push for stronger copyright enforcement.

As far as I’m concerned, Bob Marley’s copyright MUST be in the Public Domain upon death. The public is meant to be the beneficiaries here, not the heirs and not the record labels.

Which brings me to the “Stairway To Heaven” court case.

You see I am not a fan of the heirs of an artist inheriting the copyrights of the artist once they die and I am definitely not a fan of the heirs of an artist suing others for money. We can all hear that Jimmy Page lifted the riff from the Spirit track “Taurus” and to be honest made a better derivative version of the Spirit track. For whatever reasons Spirit guitarist Randy California was cool with it and nothing happened. However the heirs are now challenging that.

What a sad state it is when a court has to decide on this and whichever way the court rules, the court is putting out the idea that one track is so original and the other is not. As a musician, trust me when I say that no song or riff is created in a vacuum. Each piece of music that comes out is a sum of our influences.

One final thing to add to my rant. When can the artists get it right when it comes to the music industry and recording industry references. Check out this quote from Ron Bumblefoot, the current guitarist in Guns N’ Roses.

”The music industry started to see their customers as their enemies and everybody suffered for it. Congratulations record industry – you’ve made a mess and you still don’t know how to clean it up.”

I always state over and over again, that the music industry is not the recording industry. They are two different entities. You see, the music industry didn’t see their customers as enemies, nor did they sue them, it was the recording industry that did that.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music

P(etty)L(ynne)A(ttack)GIARIZE

Anyone heard Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”. I know it’s not a rock or metal song, however since July last year, thousands of YouTube clips came up where YouTube users mashed up “Stay With Me” with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” that was a co-write with Jeff Lynne from ELO and released back in 1989.

And to be honest I had no idea that Petty and Lynne went for royalties on this one, so when I came across the stories a few days ago about it, I have to admit I had a laugh.

I laughed first because both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne as musicians have used a lot of blues standards and classical music respectively in their output.

I laughed because one of the greatest bands in the world Led Zeppelin plagiarized a shit load of folk and blues standards. Hell, their biggest song “Stairway To Heaven” was even plagiarized.

I laughed because one of the biggest bands in the world today, Metallica plagiarized a shit load of metal and skate metal bands for their biggest songs.

I laughed because the whole British rock invasion was a cultural movement based on plagiarizing the blues standards of the thirties to the fifties.

I laughed because Avenged Sevenfold released a great rock record that plagiarized a shit load of other bands from the Eighties and the Nineties.

I laughed because the whole concept of writing music is to copy something that came before it and to allow that to influence you.

I laughed because the copyright bullshit laws that Petty and his team used are there to protect songwriters from competitive works that diminished the original work. I can honestly say that Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” in no way diminished Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”. There is no way that people who like “Stay With Me” would neglect Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”.

I laughed because the vocal melodies are both simple pentatonic sequences. The pentatonic scale is a five note scale that is a standard in rock and metal.

I laughed because Tom Petty when questioned about similarities between The Strokes “Last Nite” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers “Dani California” with Petty’s “American Girl” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” said that he doesn’t believe in court actions to fight over pop songs.

I laughed because one of the albums I have been listening to lately is the poster child for copying and what a fucking great album it is. That is Kingdom Come’s self-titled album.

I laughed because when it comes to music everything is loaded with so much emotion.

I laughed because all music is a derivative of what came before it.

I laughed because the reason WHY WE LIKE music is that it sounds like something familiar.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Lifehouse

Lifehouse just seems to hang around in my life. Maybe it is because my wife played the No Name Face album to death at home and in the car when it came out in 2000. While the lead-off single Hanging By A Moment had the traction, it was cuts like Cling and Clatter, Quasimodo and Everything that hooked me in. I especially enjoyed the song Everything and its movement from an acoustic introspective song into a Stairway To Heaven big finish.

No Name Face was the pinnacle. Stanley Climbfall and the self titled album didn’t even come close. I was starting to lose interest and to my surprise so was my wife. Who We Are in 2007 got my attention with the sorrowful Storm, the soul searching rock of Disarray and the Johnny Cash vibe of Broken . Then in 2010, came Smoke and Mirrors. Tracks 1 to 8 are top notch. They should have stopped the album right there. It would have been perfection. The most recent album Almeria has the song Moveonday, which reminds me of When The Levee Breaks from Led Zeppelin. The rest however pales compared to No Name Face and Smoke and Mirrors.

All In is a great song from the Smoke and Mirrors album released in 2010.

It’s a Jason Wade and Jude Cole composition. The soft first fret capo’d strumming in the intro is all an illusion to the rock song that lay in waiting. The chords that are played are F, C, G and Am, with a capo on the first fret. 

The chords then change to C, F, Am – G and F for the verse and the chorus. This is a part of Lifehouse I like a lot. They use the same chords for the verse and for the chorus and they change the vocal melody. This is the extreme opposite to say Dream Theater, who will have a verse riff that is unique and a chorus riff that is unique.

And I’m all in
Nothing left to hide

I’m all in
I’m all in for life

It’s those moments in time when you realise, yeah, I am in love, so let’s do this. My father always said to me that you marry for life. In 2013 my wife and I are going to celebrate 15 years of marriage with our three kids. It’s been a ride. There have been highs and there have been lows. However, I am all in for life.

There’s no taking back what we’ve got
It’s too strong we’ve had each other’s back for too long

There’s no breaking up this time

When I come across people that tell me they never argue and that everything is perfect, I just smile and reply that they are so lucky. However I am thinking that at least one person in the relationship is not telling the truth. Eventually they implode. It could have been a secret gambling addiction, not being truthful about money and so on. There have been times in our relationship were it is easier to just walk away, however we have had each other’s backs for so long, walking away was never an option that came in our minds.

It’s the best song on Smoke and Mirrors.

Falling In would not be out of place on a Daughtry album. It’s the laid back feel that hooks me in. It’s a Jason Wade, Jude Cole, Jacob Kasher Hindlin and Kevin Rudolf composition.

Outside writers can bring a lot to the table, however they can also make the song very formulaic. Kevin Rudolf is known to be the “King Of The Cross Genre”. His resume is diverse, involving song writing credits with Timbaland, Cobra Starship, My Darkest Days, Lil Wayne, Natasha Bedingfield, Flo Ride and so on. As I mentioned earlier, the overall sound of the song would not be out of place on a Daughtry album. I am hearing the pop formula at work.

This is another song where the verse riff and chorus riff use the same chords. In this case they are G, D, Em and C. The vocal melody is designed to carry the song and it does a marvellous job at it.

Every time I see your face
My heart takes off on a high speed chase

Now don’t be scared, it’s only love
Baby that we’re falling in

It’s that moment when you commit. You don’t know what the outcome is going to be, you just know at that point in time there is nothing else you want except the love.

Smoke And Mirrors

It’s the Tom Petty and REM influence that hooks me in. It’s another Jason Wade and Jude Cole composition. The Intro of Em, G and D times 3 is the familiar Chorus progression. This ends with a dissonant Eb6 sus4 chord and then a C/G chord.

The verses move from C to D times 3 and it ends with the same dissonant Eb6 sus4 chord and then a C/G chord.

Now the days roll hard and the nights move fast
They say be careful what you wish

But having everything means nothing to me now
What we had is everything to miss

All the riches we have, we cannot take to the grave. All that will be left is the memories. That is the legacy we leave behind. If people talk about their experiences and the moments they had with you, that is a legacy. No one is going to remember if you had millions or billions in your bank account. This whole song is about striving to be someone you are not, and then when you get those riches, you realise that it really meant nothing to you. The real smiles, the romance, the good and the bad of a relationship are the things that really mattered.

Gonna drive all night ’til we disappear
Chasing down the miles so far from here

As the smoke and mirrors start to fade away
And we’re all we’ve got so let’s hold on tight

When the masquerade is over and all the crowds are gone you are either all alone or you still have your loved one hanging in. Strange as it is, this song reminds me of the Savatage song, When The Crowds Are Gone from the Gutter Ballet album, released in 1987. The message of the song is about a person who is sitting on the empty stage, reflecting on all the unfinished dreams and trying to remember those memories that seem to slip away like faded photographs. Throughout his or her life, they conformed to win over the masses and then when the masses then went on to something else, what is left?

The story’s over, when the crowds are gone

You need to have that other life, that place of sanity, that when the crowds disappear and all the money disappears, you still have that love. When one story ends, the other story still continues.

This is the beauty of music were a song from a different genre brings back a memory of another song that is 26 years old.

When the crowds are gone
And I’m all alone

Playing a final song

For any artist or an actor, that is the way it will end. The crowds and the riches will not be around forever. Look at Johnny Cash, who in his last days was recording his music from a hospital bed, without the crowds and the riches. He just had his family.

Had Enough is an interesting song. First it is written by Jason Wade, Chris Daughtry and Richard Marx. What a combination of Top 10 writers. It also features Chris Daughtry. Furthermore, Bon Jovi has been trying to write a song like this for years, however he just never nailed. Just Older from the Crush album is probably the closest Bon Jovi got.

The intro and verse are built around an Am, F, C and G progression, moving to a Dm and F progression just before the chorus. The chorus is built around a C, F, Am and F progression. I like the movement from the minor key sadness in the verses to the major key “hope” and it’s time to move on mantra in the Chorus.

Loneliness facing up and down these hallways
Second guessing every thought

Mystified, just spinning ’round in circles
Drowning in the silent screaming with nothing left to say

You know the feeling of suffering in silence trying to make things work, but really doing nothing special to make it work.

Every time I reach for you, there’s no one there to hold on to
Nothing left for me to miss, I’m letting go, letting go of this

Lost my mind thinking it through, the light inside has left me too
Now I know what empty is, I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough of this

The part in the relationship where you know that the other side has checked out emotionally and lovingly, however they are still around physically because both sides cannot find the strength and the effort to call full time.

From Where You Are is a Jason Wade composition. According to Wikipedia the song is dedicated to the teens who have lost their lives in car accidents.

The intro and verse is a F, Am and G progression, while the Chorus moves to a Am, F, Am, G progression. The song moves from a major key in the verses to a minor key in the Chorus.

I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face

I miss all the little things
I never thought that they’d mean everything to me

In the end, no one is going to miss the wealth or the fame. We will miss all those little things that at first glance we didn’t see as important.

It Is What It Is

It’s another Jason Wade and Jude Cole composition.

Play the Capo on the 4th fret and the intro/verse progression is Em | C | G-D | G-D. The Chorus progression is G | D | Em | C and the Bridge progression is C | D | Em | Am.

It is what it is
I was only looking for a shortcut home

But it’s complicated

It’s hard trying to keep a relationship going. There are no shortcuts and its very complicated. So many strings are attached to it. Sometimes in those times of doubt it is better to be without each other. Love is complicated. More complicated than we think.

If the time could turn us around
What once was lost may be found

For you and me, for you and me

Time moves on. Once it is gone, we cannot get it back. To use a plate analogy for love, once the plate is broken, it doesn’t matter how the plate is glued back together, it is never the same.

Nerve Damage

It’s another Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Jude Cole, Kevin Rudolf and Jason Wade composition. It has that Stairway To Heaven feel at the beginning that hooks me in. In this case the song begins in Bm instead of Am. I also love the bluesy feel of the lead.

New circus freak
With black eyes that speak

Life takes it’s toll
You push and it pulls
You’re losing control

The mask that we wear makes us look like circus freaks. Even though this song is about a relationship, I take a different meaning from this verse.

I see the lines “New circus freak with black eyes that speak,” is the aftermath of the violence. The person is so battered and so bruised, they look like a circus freak. The black eyes is the result of the violence.

The lines, “Life takes its toll, you push and it pulls, you’re losing control,” is the result of the bed the person made for themselves. There is an old saying, “you live and die by the life you lead.” In this instance, the person is losing control of their life as the situation they are in takes its toll.

Meltdown’s looking for a new clown
Living in a world that’s make believe
Used up burned out always got a hand out
Ain’t nothing here for free
Now you’re hanging on the edge of tomorrow
Let go let it be

This is what happens when you play a game of being someone you are not. You end up used, burned up and hanging by a thread to this thing called life. The meltdown is like the machine of life, always looking for new souls to keep it running. In the end, nothing is for free. We all end up paying the price for something we have done.

Hell bent looking for a god send
Kicking down the door waiting for a sign

Right side turning on the bright side
That might not be what you find
Wake up move on nothing left to prove
Got nightmares in your dreams

This last verse is about restoration. Get out of the make believe nightmare you created and move on. Let that past life be a nightmare in your dreams from this point forward. Don’t let it drag you down anymore.

Halfway Gone is a Jason Wade, Jude Cole, Kevin Rudolf and Jacob Kasher composition. It is using the same chords as Had Enough, which are Am, F, C and G with a capo on the 4th fret.

You were always hard to hold
So letting go ain’t easy

I’m hanging on but growing cold
While my mind is leaving

You know that it is over in your head, but you haven’t called it quits in the physical realm.

Cause you’re halfway in but don’t take too long
Cause I’m halfway gone, I’m halfway gone

The contradiction. One is halfway in, while one is halfway gone. 

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Music

Teaser

Teaser

I first heard Teaser when Motley Crue covered it for the Stairway to Heaven/Highway To Hell  compilation album for the Moscow Peace Festival.  This was back in 1989, and I saw the writer was a T.Bolin.  Pre Internet era, meant I had to go to the record shop (which in my case was Rings Music World) and ask them if they have anything on T.Bolin?

The lady knew me well  as I was a chronic asker of music that she never had in stock and she knew very well, that she was going to spend time looking through massive folders from different distributers.

Lo and behold, she told me that she can import it in and it was going to cost $40 to get it in on LP.  I said import in.  Think about that for a second.  I spent $40 on an album that I only one song on it.  That is the power of music and the need to have that one song.  And it was the last song on Side A.  It was written by Tommy Bolin and Jeff Cook who was in the band American Standard and Energy  with Bolin in the late sixties.

The first thing that grabs you is that funky sleazy riff and the wolf whistle slide guitar.

That woman’s got a smile
Puts you in a trance
And just one look at her
Makes you wanna dance
Those dark and those red ruby lips
Only a fool would pass them by
With just a hint of ruthlessness
Sparklin’ in her eye

After hearing that first verse I was reminded how similar Bon Jovi got to it with You Give Love A Bad Name.   And then the chorus comes in.

She’s a teaser and she’s got no heart at all
She’s a teaser and she’ll tempt you ’till you fall.
Yeah she’ll tempt ya ’till ya fall.

Who hasn’t come across a woman like that?

She sips gin from a teacup, wears those fancy clothes
And somebody always knows her no matter where she goes
She’ll talk to you in riddles that have no sense or rhyme
And if you ask her what she means, says she don’t got no time

The second verse reminds me of T-Rex’s Get It On,

Well you’re dirty and sweet
Clad in black, don’t look back and I love you
You’re dirty and sweet, oh yeah
Well you dance when you walk
So let’s dance, take a chance, understand me
You’re dirty sweet and you’re my girl

Then the solo breakdown section kicks in where it’s just the bass and drums simulating an excited heartbeat at the beginning and it moves into a free form jazz fusion lead break.  Jeff Porcaro from Steely Dan and Toto fame played drums and Stanley Sheldon from Peter Frampton’s band played bass.

As I listened to the album over and over again, I found other gems in the instrumental Homeward Strut, with its James Gang Funk inspired verses and its unbelievable harmony lick that acts as a Chorus.

The piano ballad Dreamer with Glen Hughes singing the last verse (even though he is uncredited) and piano played by David Foster, the same David Foster that would go on to produce and compose songs for Whitney Houston, Michael Buble and many others.

You have the blues funk of Savannah Woman with Phil Collins even providing percussion.

Side 2 doesn’t have the same impact as Side 1.  People People is lacklustre, while Marching Powder is a jazz fusion instrumental, reminiscent of Return to Forever. Wild Dogs is so so, but the closer Lotus makes up for it with its fusion of hard rock, blues, jazz, funk  and synth orientated pop.

Similar in structure to Teaser, it has that unbelievable breakdown solo section, which closes the album.

In 1975, he released Teaser and Come Taste the Band with Deep Purple, and in 1976 he released Private Eyes in September.  By December he was dead.  His music forever lives.

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