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FYI

Obituaries: Country Music Manager Erv Woolsey, Piano Virtuoso Maurizio Pollini & More

This week we also acknowledge the passing of gospel star Sandra Crouch, musician Vincent Bonham and disability rights advocate & artist Cola Boyy.

Erv Woolsey and George Strait

Erv Woolsey and George Strait

Courtesy of The Erv Woolsey Co.

Vincent Bonham, a U.S. musician and founding member of Raydio with Ray Parker Jr. in 1977, died on March 24, at age 67. No cause of death has been reported.

Raydio released four albums from 1978 to 1981 before Ray Parker departed for a solo career.


Raydio had their first hit in 1978 with their first single "Jack and Jill." which reached no. 8 in the U.S. Other Top 10 hits included "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)" and "You Can't Change That."

After Raydio, Bonham also recorded with Jimmie Vaughan, B.B. King and Keb’ Mo’, and performed with Chaka Khan and Evelyn Champagne King.

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In 2014, original Raydio members Arnell Carmichael and Bonham revived Raydio, recruiting two new members, James Carmichael formerly of the Arista group Q.T. Hush, and up-and-coming young singer Giovanni Rogers. They toured with Average White Band, War, Switch and DeBarge, among several other major tours.

Cola Boyy (born Matthew Joseph Urango), a Californian disco/funk artist and activist, died on March 17, at age 34. A cause of death has not been reported.

From birth, the self-described Afro-Latino Urango had spina bifida, kyphosis and scoliosis, as well as a club foot, and he became a disability rights advocate.

He started out in high school punk bands, then played second guitar for indie pop band Sea Lions, prior to going solo.

His debut EP, Black Boogie Neon, was released in 2018, followed by an acclaimed full-length debut album, Prosthetic Boombox, in 2021. Urango toured and collaborated with MGMT. NME compared his sound to "a disco ball melting or the after-effects of some particularly potent hallucinogenics," while The Guardian gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, describing the record as a "delirious blast of disco, funk, house and psychedelia"

Read more in this Billboard obit.

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Sandra Crouch, Grammy-Winning Gospel Musician, died on March 17, at age 81. Billboard reported her death "followed complications from radiation for a non-cancerous brain lesion."

The twin sister of gospel great Andraé Crouch, she performed with The Disciples, worked with a number of stars as a percussionist, and released three solo albums.

Sandra and Andraé were born in Los Angeles to parents who went into ministry and founded Christ Memorial Church C.O.G.I.C. in 1951. The siblings began performing music together around 1960 as The COGICS.

Andraé went on to form the group Andraé Crouch & The Disciples, and Sandra worked as a percussionist in Hollywood. Her credits include work with The Jackson 5, Neil Diamond and Janis Joplin, and she released three solo albums in the 1980s. All earned Grammy nominations, with her debut, We Sing Praises, winning the award for best soul gospel performance, female at the 26th annual Grammy Awards.

In the 1970s, Crouch joined her brother with The Disciples, singing, playing and co-writing songs including “Jesus Is the Answer,” which became a mainstay on gospel radio.

The twins backed Michael Jackson on several songs on History – Past, Present and Future Book 1, and on “Man in the Mirror” when Jackson performed it live at the Grammys in 1988. Both Andraé and Sandra also worked on film soundtracks for 1985’s The Color Purple, 1993’s Free Willy and 1994’s The Lion King.

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Sandra won two GMA Dove Awards for traditional gospel album, first for We Sing Praises in 1984, and then for With All of My Heart in 1993.

Andraé Crouch took over their parents’ church in 1998 and ordained Sandra as a co-pastor. They gave the church a new name: New Chris Memorial Church, and Sandra assumed the role of senior pastor beginning in 2015, when her brother passed.

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Read the full Billboard obituary here.

Maurizio Pollini, a noted and Grammy-winning Italian pianist and conductor, died on March 23, at age 82. La Scala announced his death, but did not report a cause. Pollini had been forced to cancel a concert at the Salzburg Festival in 2022 because of heart problems.

In its obituary, The Guardian called Pollini "one of the giants of the keyboard in the second half of the 20th century, and yet for all the respect he commanded, his playing was criticised throughout his career for being excessively cool and cerebral."

He first made a mark by taking first prize at the 1960 Chopin competition in Warsaw. He later withdrew from the international concert circuit for 18 months to broaden his repertoire and develop other cultural interests, then, in 1968, he signed to the Deutsche Grammophon (DG) label and triumphed in concert and in the recording studio.

He was especially known for performances of Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, and the Second Viennese School, though APnoted that "his repertoire expanded beyond the standard classics. He embraced early 20th-century masterpieces by Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern and postwar modernists such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez and Luigi Nono."

Terming him "a left wing idealist," The Guardian observed that "Pollini’s radical outlook remained with him throughout his career, as did his intellectual approach to art and life."

Eugene Ervine “Erv” Woolsey, an artist manager and record promotion executive, died on March 20, at age 80, of surgery complications.

Billboard notes that “Woolsey was best known as the longtime manager for and champion of country music superstar and Country Music Hall of Fame member George Strait, as well as for managing and championing artists including Lee Ann Womack, Dierks Bentley, Clay Walker and Ronnie Milsap."

Woolsey spent time working at several labels in Houston before relocating to Nashville in 1973, when he began serving as the head of promotions for ABC Records’ newly-launched country division. There, he helped guide the careers of Jimmy Buffett, Billy “Crash” Craddock, Donna Fargo, Freddy Fender and the Amazing Rhythm Aces, and more.

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Woolsey followed his success at ABC Records with an unprecedented run at MCA during the 1980s, bringing radio success for artists including Barbara Mandrell, Don Williams, Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty and the Oak Ridge Boys, all of whom would become members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 1981, following the success of the John Travolta film Urban Cowboy and on the cusp of a new traditionalist movement, Woolsey convinced MCA Records head Jim Fogelsong to sign Strait to the label, where Strait remains to this day. On MCA, Strait released his debut single, “Unwound,” which had an undercurrent of Texas swing; the song reached No. 6 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart and launched Strait’s juggernaut career. In 1984, Woolsey left MCA and devoted himself to managing Strait’s career full-time.

He had discovered Strait early on, booking him into the San Marcos, Tex., club The Prairie Rose, he and his ex-wife Connie owned. Under Woolsey's guidance, Strait became one of the biggest country music stars of the last three plus decades.

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Woolsey also found success as a songwriter, co-writing “In Too Deep” on Strait’s 1985 project Something Special, as well as the chart-topper “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” which earned a BMI Million-Air award. Woolsey also developed a series of clubs and bars, including opening Nashville clubs The Trap and Losers.

Woolsey also served on the Country Music Association’s board of directors as well as the board of directors for the Tennessee Museum of History. Read more in this extensive Billboard obituary.

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AP Dhillon smashing his guitar at Coachella
Instagram/Coachella

AP Dhillon smashing his guitar at Coachella

Music

AP Dhillon Drops Off Coachella's Second Weekend

The Punjabi-Canadian star has faced backlash in Indian media and on social media for his guitar smash on weekend one, but the festival says he's cancelling due to scheduling conflicts.

AP Dhillon is leaving the California desert behind. Coachella announced that the Punjabi-Canadian star will not appear at the festival's second weekend as planned, citing scheduling conflicts. The festival announced it in a follow up tweet to one announcing that rapper Kid Cudi has been added.

While Dhillon's first-weekend performance was well-received by the Coachella crowd and many of his supporters, he's also had some backlash due to how he closed his set, which has been widely covered by media in India.

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