Obits, Sept. 8, 2022

This week we acknowledge the passing of rapper Pat Stay, musicians John Till and Jaimie Branch, and singer Drummie Zeb.

Obits, Sept. 8, 2022

By Kerry Doole

Pat Stay, a noted Canadian battle rapper, was fatally stabbed on Sept. 4, age 36.

Reports began to surface early Sunday morning that the Nova Scotia native was fatally stabbed following a night out in Halifax. Police have called for members of the public with any information to come forward.  

AllHipHop notes that "The battle rap community has been left in shock at the news one of their legends has passed. Tributes began flooding in as fans and fellow battlers alike were stunned at the news of his passing. 

"The talented wordsmith was internationally renowned after his performances in leagues across the world. He has numerous big stage appearances with Ultimate Rap League, King of The Dot, Rare Breed Entertainment, U Dubb, Don’t Flop, and many more. The rapper had recently called out The Game challenging him to a rap battle after the Compton rapper dropped his “Black Slim Shady” track. Pat Stay had just dropped his own diss track to The Game, Warm Up, on Sept. 2. just two days before his passing. "


The Alchemist and R.A. The Rugged Man were amongst those who paid tribute. “‘I can moonwalk with steel toe boots on. Rest in peace, Pat Stay. Battle Rap icon and king. If you know me, u know I always thought he was the best. I’m hurt,” Alchemist wrote. In another tweet, R.A. The Rugged Man calledStay “a very cool person and a family man.”

Celebrity Access reports that "Stay had a large social media following and put out a new track two days ago that has already amassed more than 50,000 views on YouTube. The video even includes a brief quote from Drake. “Pat Stay’s definitely one of, if not, the best,” he said in the video. He even paid tribute to the fallen rapper on Sunday (September 4) via social media:  “RIP to the Sucka Free Boss @patstay_902 one of my fav rappers ever,” he wrote while sharing a photo of Stay in action at his OVO and “Blackout 5″ battle rap event.


Calling Stay one of the 'best battlers of all time', Eminem wrote: "Hip-hop lost one of the best battlers of all time … RIP... KINGS NEVER DIE."

 Sources:,Celebrity Access, The Mirror

John Till, a Canadian guitarist who played with Ronnie Hawkins and Janis Joplin, died on Sept. 4, age 76.

Till was born in Stratford, Ontario. His parents were musicians who loved to play Dixieland, so Till was around live music performances from his earliest years. Guitarist Till and the late bassist Ken Kalmusky were original members of Stratford-based teenaged rock band The Revols (a young Richard Manuel was also a member) and later enjoyed international success with the likes of Ronnie Hawkins, and Janis Joplin, among others. 

While attending school at Stratford Central High, he formed a rock & roll band, the Revols, with classmates Manuel and Kalmusky. Manuel coined the name "Revols," short for Revolution. The Revols played local dancehalls around southern Ontario, but within a few years Manuel would go on to join Ronnie Hawkins' Hawks, who later achieved fame as the Band, and Kalmusky would go on to play with Ian & Sylvia Tyson's Great Speckled Bird.


In 1958 the Revols were offered the opportunity to play some dates in Arkansas that Ronnie Hawkins had arranged. However, the Revols went south without Till, who at age 13 chose to remain in school. In 1960, Till joined the band Larry Lee & the Leesures, and spent the summer of 1960 playing on Yonge Street at Le Coq d'Or and the Zanzibar with Max Falcon and the Falcons before returning to Stratford and school in the fall.


In 1961, Till played with Kelly Jay and then David Clayton-Thomas, including US shows. In 1965, he and Kamulsky both joined Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks. Till can be heard on Hawkins' 1967 single Home from the Forest, and he stayed with Hawkins until he left in July of 1969 to replace Sam Andrew in Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band.

Andrew was the guitarist in Big Brother & the Holding Company and had continued with Joplin for the recording of the LP I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! A few weeks before the Woodstock festival Till arrived in New York, and he watched from the audience as the Kozmic Blues Band performed in New Haven, CT. Then, at a concert in Forest Hills, NY, Andrew and Till played guitar on stage together for the first and only time. At that point, Andrew left and Till became the guitarist for Joplin throughout the rest of her career.

AllMusic notes that "When Joplin formed her Full Tilt Boogie Band it was the creation of a perfect unit with which she could express herself. The Pearl album and the tour that preceded it has the dependable John Till sound embellishing her music in a natural progression from the experimental sounds Sam Andrew provided."

Post-Janis Till returned to Woodstock, NY, and got in touch with Joplin and The Band producer John Simon for sessions with Bobby Charles at the Bearsville studios. He also appeared on Peter Yarrow's 1972 disc, Peter. Till eventually returned to Canada in 1976 and started playing locally every weekend with husband-and-wife duo Danny & Linda Hunter and doing occasional recording sessions with local artists such as Bob Burchill, Michael O'Brien, Michael's son Jesse O'Brien, and others.


In the 2000s, Till taught guitar and performed in London, Ontario, with B.W. Pawley & Plum Loco. Plum Loco with his son Shawn Till on bass and longtime friends Brian Pawley on guitar and vocals and Billy Hilton on drums and vocals. Shawn Till replaced Ken Kalmusky on bass, Kalmusky having passed away in the fall of 2005.

In Jan. 2006, Plum Loco opened for Ronnie Hawkins on the Stratford Festival's main stage, to an appreciative packed house of Stratford friends and fans. In addition, for the first time in 30 years, four of the five members of the Full Tilt Boogie Band -- Richard Bell, Ken Pearson, Brad Campbell, and John Till -- got together in 2003 for the filming of interviews for the movie Festival Express, one premiering at the Toronto Film Festival.

In 2020, Till and the late Ken Kamulsky were honoured by Stratford as recipients of the Bronze Star. The accolade, handed out annually, recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the cultural or social fabric of Stratford on a national or international scale. 

Amongst those paying tribute to Till on social media was Hamilton keyboardist Jesse O'Brien. On Facebook, he posted that "John Till was a long-time friend of my father’s, and he and his band from Stratford were legends in my house growing up. Once before a show when I was 16 John taught me how to play two Ray Charles songs, the notes to hit, and most importantly the notes to leave out. I think of John and that lesson often, and am thankful for his friendship and the many shows we played over the years. RIP to a kind soul." Sources: Wikipedia, Jesse O'Brien, Goldmine, AllMusic, Stratford Beacon-Herald 



Jaimie Branch, acclaimed jazz, rock and avant-garde trumpeter, died on Aug. 22, age 39. A cause of death has not been reported.

She cited Don Cherry, Axel Dörner, Booker Little, Miles Davis, and Evan Parker among her musical influences. The New York Times called her "One of the most dynamic trumpet players in contemporary music. She forged a direct emotional and even spirit."

Branch started playing trumpet at age nine. At age 14, she moved to Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago, and later attended the New England Conservatory of Music. After graduating, Branch moved back to Chicago, working as a musician, organizer, and sound engineer on the local music scene, including with Jason Ajemian,  Keefe Jackson's Project Project, Tim Daisy's New Fracture Quartet, Anton Hatwich, and Ken Vandermark. 

She performed in Chicago and New York with her trio Princess, Princess, with bassist Toby Summerfield and drummer Frank Rosaly, in trios with Tim Daisy and Daniel Levin, Matt Schneider, and Jason Adasiewicz, and with Chris Velkommen and Sam Weinberg. Together with Jason Stein, Jeb Bishop, and Jason Roebke, she founded the band Block and Tackle. She played on five albums between 2006 and 2008.

In 2012 Branch moved to Baltimore, where she worked toward a master's degree in Jazz performance from Towson University. At this time she also founded the record label Pionic Records, which released the music of her group Bomb Shelter. 

In 2015 Branch moved to Brooklyn, where she began working with local players.  In addition, she performed on albums with the independent rock groups Never Enough Hope, Local H and Atlas Moth.  In 2017 she released her debut solo album, Fly or Die. It was chosen as one of NPR Music's Top 50 Albums of 2017. Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise came out in 2019.

Sources: Wikipedia, NY Times

Drummie Zeb (born Angus Gaye ), lead singer of leading UK reggae band Aswad, dies aged 62. The cause of death has not been reported.

His bandmates posted this: “It is with the deepest regret and profound loss that we have to announce the passing of our brother Angus ‘Drummie’ Gaye. Drummie has left us to join our ancestors and leaves a huge void both personally and professionally.”

Aswad, the trio of Angus Gaye, Brinsley Forde and Tony Robinson, were the first reggae band in the UK signed to an international label, Island Records, in the 1970s, and swiftly became a classic British reggae act creating 15 albums in two decades.

Beloved for international hits Don’t Turn Around and Give A Little Love, Aswad also contributed to the Free Nelson Mandela campaign with their chart hit Set Them Free, according to their management, Spaine Music. “Aswad is still very relevant in the 21st century as can be seen by the many festivals they appear on both in the UK and around the world,” Spaine Music said.

In a tribute online, the former UB40 frontman Ali Campbell said: “Very sad to hear the passing of Aswad’s Drummie Zeb. We’ve lost another UK Reggae pioneer. Deepest condolences go out to all of the Aswad family.” Sources: The Guardian

Vanessa Heins


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