Obituaries: French Pop Icon Françoise Hardy, 'Suspicious Minds' Songwriter Mark James

This week we also acknowledge the passing of broadcaster/musician Jeremy Tepper, Tejano music TV host Johnny Canales and Scottish rocker Davie Duncan.

Françoise Hardy

Françoise Hardy

Joost Evers / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Françoise Hardy, a French pop singer, actress, author and model, died on June 11, at age 80 after a long battle with lymphatic cancer.

A Billboard obituary terms Hardy "one of the leading lights of the French yé-yé pop movement, and an inspiration to Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger.

"The singer got her break in 1961 when the Disques Vogue label signed the then-18-year-old and released the single 'Tous les garçons et les filles,' which became an instant hit and sold more than 2.5 million copies...More hits followed, including 'Je Suis D’Accord' and 'Le Temps de L’Amour.' She scored her first top 20 U.K. hit in 1964 with 'All Over the World.' Successful forays into acting and modelling enhanced her profile. The likes of Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and David Bowie all professed to be fans...Hardy scored her biggest English-language hit in 1968 with the Serge Gainsbourg-penned 'It Hurts to Say Goodbye,' which hit No. 1 in France and the U.K."


Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Hardy released a dozen albums exploring Brazilian funk, rock, disco, jazz and electronic pop. She continued to release albums throughout the early 2000s, though, issuing her 28th and final studio collection, Personne d’autre, in 2018. Later collaborators included Iggy Pop and Blur.

In addition to collaborating with everyone from Iggy Pop to Blur, Hardy also appeared in films by such acclaimed directors Jean-Luc Godard (1966’s Masculine Feminine) and John Frankenheimer (Grand Prix). The singer also developed an interest in astrology, authoring a series of books on the subject of astrology as well as publishing fiction and her autobiography, The Despair of Monkeys and Other Trifles, in 2018.

Johnny Canales, a Tejano singer and TV host who helped launch Selena’s career, died on June 13 , at age 77.

An Associated Press obituary notes that Canales, who was born in Mexico, was known by the catchphrase “Take it away” as he hosted a televised music show in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the 1980s and 1990s. At its height, the syndicated show was seen across the United States, Mexico and Latin America.


He is credited with launching the career of Tejano superstar Selena on the show and was portrayed by actor Luis Bordonada in the Netflix series Selena: The Series.

Canales was honoured with a lifetime achievement recognition during the Tejano Music Awards in San Antonio, Texas in 2012.

Davie Duncan, lead singer of the '80s Scottish band Shakin' Pyramids, died in early June. His age and a cause of death have not been reported.

He had previously been part of the band The Cuban Heels in the seventies, playing drums. The Shakin' Pyramids started out playing in pubs in Glasgow, then signed a record deal with Cuba Libre, a subsidiary of Virgin Records.

The band's first song was "Reeferbilly Boogie," recorded in 1980 at the Hellfire club in Glasgow. It was chosen “Single of the Week” by NME, and was part of their first EP in 1980, Reeferbilly Boogie. Their first LP, Skin 'Em Up, featured Davie Duncan on vocals, harmonica and percussion.


Their second and last LP was Celts And Cobras, produced by Bob Andrews (Brinsley Schwarz and others) with several collaborations. During a tour of Canada they separated due to personal differences.

In 1986 Davie Duncan and "Railroad" Ken McLellan played together as the Rhinestone Rattlesnakes.

The Shakin' Pyramids (1983), a compilation album, was released shortly after the group's dissolution by Rock 'n Roll Records, a subsidiary of Scotti Brothers Records. While lacking chart success, the bands records gained critical favour and were part of the rockabilly revival of the early 1980s.


Duncan would later collaborate with several Scottish folk or Americana groups. In 2015 he formed Veloniños, a rock and roll and rockabilly group, and they recorded an LP the following year.

Mark James (born Francis Rodney Zambon), an American songwriter who wrote hits for B.J. Thomas, Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley, including Presley's hit single "Suspicious Minds," died on June 8, at age 83.

He began writing songs and performing in Houston in clubs and had a band called The Mark James Trio. He released his first single, "Jive Note", in 1959, and had a few minor hits prior to being drafted to serve in Vietnam with the First Infantry Division.

After his discharge, he moved to Memphis in 1968 and worked as a staff songwriter for Memphis producer Chips Moman's publishing company. BJ Thomas recorded versions of James' tunes "The Eyes of a New York Woman," "Hooked on a Feeling" and "It's Only Love," all of which were successful. "Hooked on a Feeling," inspired by Karen Taylor his high school sweetheart who had inspired "Suspicious Minds," was his first top ten hit.

James released his own version of his song Suspicious Minds" on Scepter Records in 1968. Elvis Presley, looking for a song with which to relaunch his career, had "Suspicious Minds" played to him by Moman and recorded a version in 1969. The song became a smash hit, and was later listed on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at no. 91.

A Billboard obituary notes that "songwriters are lucky if they leave behind one song that everyone knows and loves. Mark James left behind three: 'Suspicious Minds,' the final No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 by Elvis Presley; 'Always on My Mind,' which was a top five Hot 100 hit for both Willie Nelson and Pet Shop Boys; and 'Hooked on a Feeling,' which was a top five Hot 100 hit for both B.J. Thomas and Blue Swede."


James won two Grammy Awards – song of the year and best country song – for “Always on My Mind,” a ballad he co-wrote with Johnny Christopher and Wayne Carson. The song was also named song of the year by the Country Music Association in both 1982 and 1983. Mark James was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.

Jeremy Evan Tepper, an American musician, journalist and record industry executive, died on June 14, of a heart attack, at age 60.

The former frontman of the band World Famous Blue Jays, he co-founded the record label Diesel Only Records in 1990, along with Jay Sherman-Godfrey and Albert Caiati. Along with Caiati, Tepper subsequently became the "head honcho" of Diesel Only. Variety notes that "launched by Tepper as a vehicle for his band’s music, Diesel Only’s profile rose significantly in 1996 with the release of the compilation Big Rig Deluxe, featuring songs by Marty Stuart, Buck Owens, and Steve Earle. Initially focused on the strain of country sometimes called 'trucker music,' the label released dozens of albums over the course of its 15-year run by artists including Cantrell, Dale Watson, Amy Allison, Ween, Will Rigby, Tammy Faye Starlite and many others".


He was also the managing editor of the magazine Vending Times prior to 1992, and later became the publisher and editor-in-chief of the jukebox industry trade journal Street Beat. Prior to becoming format manager for Sirius Satellite Radio's Outlaw Country channel in 2004, he had also worked for CDuctive and, and had served as the editor of the Journal of Country Music and as a country music critic for Pulse! He was the crucial figure behind the very popular Outlaw Country cruises.

The Variety obituary terms Tepper "a leading light of the Americana/ alt-country movement."

Steven Van Zandt (aka Little Steven) wrote on social media Saturday: “This is an incredibly tragic loss so young. He ran my Outlaw Country station on SiriusXM brilliantly. It is actually quite a complicated format and he made it look easy."

Veteran music journalist/author Chris Morris posted this tribute on Facebook: "What a great, soulful cat. What a mensch. He gave his all to his musical community. I have no way to measure his loss, to that community and my friends in it. I know a lot of people who are feeling this deeply today, as I am. I still can't believe it."

Tepper was married to singer/songwriter Laura Cantrell.

Read more in this Billboard obituary.

50 Cent

50 Cent


50 Cent Takes A Victory Lap at Toronto's Cabana Pool Bar: Canadian Concerts of the Week

Also this week: it's festival season, with Hillside, Le Festif! and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival all happening on the same weekend.

Summer is in swing, and that means festival season. While many of the biggest ones take place in August, this weekend sees a handful of folk or adjacent events with the perfect summer vibes. Find those below, after our concert of the week featuring one of the biggest rap success stories of the last two decades.

Concert of the Week

50 Cent at Cabana Pool Bar, Toronto — Saturday, July 20

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