Obituaries, Dec. 21, 2023: Jimmy Ayoub, Ken Grant & More
This week, we acknowledge the passing of a legendary Canadian drummer from Mahogany Rush, an Ottawa radio fixture, and more.
James (Jimmy) Ayoub, the original drummer of Montreal rock band Mahogany Rush, died on Dec.10, at age 70.
An obituary in the Montreal Gazettenoted that "His dad was a classical and jazz musician who kindled his lifelong love of music. Jim enjoyed a successful career as the original drummer for Mahogany Rush and traveled the world, touring and playing with other famous rock acts such as Queen, Aerosmith, Kansas, Ted Nugent, Myles Goodwyn etc. He was loved and admired by drummers & fans worldwide."
Ayoub joined bassist Paul Harwood and guitarist/vocalist Frank Marino in forming Mahogany Rush in 1970, remaining in that band until 1982, and recording nine albums with the group. Mahogany Rush achieved major popularity in North America during the '70s, its commercial heyday.
Marino contributed this tribute to Billboard Canada FYI: "Jimmy was THE consummate hard-rock drummer. Look no further than him for such a position. He had it all, the power, the chops, the persona, the presence, the temperament... even the tattoos. In some ways he was Tommy Lee before Tommy Lee. Moreover, and more importantly, he was a good friend to whomever he befriended, and an even greater band-mate. I, for one, will miss him dearly. And I know many others will too."
A Visitation will be held on December 23 from 3-5 pm & 7-9 pm. at Urgel Bourgie, 1255 Beaumont Ave, Montréal, QC H3P 0A1 In lieu of flowers, a donation to St. George Orthodox Church or to the charity of your choice would be appreciated.
Bill Elliott, a regionally popular guitarist from Bass River, Nova Scotia, died on Dec. 8, at age 67. A cause of death has not been disclosed.
An obituary in Atlantic Seabreeze noted that "Bill Elliott came from a musical family where his father, Carl, was a three time winner of the Maritime Old Time Fiddling Contest and an Atlantic Old Time Fiddler's Champion. Carl, along with his sons Bill and Mike and daughter Glenda, opened for many country artists."
In 2004 Bill Elliott was nominated for an East Coast Music Award as part of the Elliott family, for an instrumental award. He played fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and bass. In 2019, he was nominated for an ECMA Award for jazz recording of the year.
Elliott performed across North America and opened shows for such stars as Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, and was the first recipient of the Canadian Certified Guitar Player (CCGP) Award in 2015. He often collaborated with JP Cormier, who told Saltwire that "Bill Elliott is one of the best musicians that ever came out of Canada. Period."
Saltwire reported that "Elliott's music crossed a variety of genres including jazz, bluegrass, country, swing, old time, folk and Celtic."
Ken Grant (born Born Kenneth Fredrick Ivan Grattan), a notable fixture on Ottawa radio for over three decades nicknamed "The General," died on Dec. 1, at age 88.
In an Ottawa Citizen obituary, Lynn Saxberg termed him "the radio personality who sent generations of Ottawa residents off to work or school every weekday morning with a brisk 'Forward, ho!' and a round of marching tunes."
Her feature noted that "Grant arrived in the nation’s capital after he was hired by CFRA in 1961. It was station general manager Terry Kielty who suggested the name change from Grattan to Grant. The General nickname came a couple of weeks later after the airing of a news tidbit about Ulysses S. Grant, the U.S. Civil War general. The announcer then turned to Ken and said, 'And, now, here is our own General Grant. The nickname stuck and the station ran with it. Kielty had a tailor custom-make a general’s uniform for Grant, which he wore on thousands of personal appearances."
Grant hosted the CFRA morning show for 32 years, then put in a few more years at Oldies 1310, prior to retiring in 2001.
Grant’s CFRA co-worker, broadcaster Steve Madely, told The Citizen that “When you compared his ratings across the country, he was one of the top three morning broadcasters in Canada at the time."
He noted Grant's tireless work for many charities, including the Jerry Lewis telethon. "He felt very much that he had a platform when he had a microphone in front of him and that he ought to use it to do good. So he did — for countless charities, but also behind the scenes. He would put together someone who had resources with someone who had a need, and no one knew about those things.”
In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations in his name be made to the Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County: www.dementiahelp.ca. A celebration of life is expected to take place next spring.
Jeffrey Foskett, a U.S. singer-guitarist who spent decades in the Beach Boys, died on Dec. 11, at age 67, following a long battle with anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Foskett joined the Beach Boys touring band in 1981 and continued with them for four decades.
Rolling Stone reported that "Foskett also played a pivotal role in Brian Wilson‘s late Nineties comeback thanks to his soaring falsetto and effortless ability to harmonize."
“Jeff was always there for me when we toured and we couldn’t have done it without him,” Brian Wilson said in a statement on Facebook. “Jeff was one of the most talented guys I ever knew. He was a great musical leader and guitarist and he could sing like an angel. I first met Jeff in 1976 when he knocked on my door in Bel Air and I invited him in, and we were friends ever since. I don’t know what else to say. Love and Mercy to Jeff’s family and friends, we will remember him forever.”
Essra Mohawk (born Sandra Elayne Hurvitz) an American singer-songwriter, died on December 11, at the age of 75, of cancer.
She wrote more than 600 songs, including Cyndi Lauper’s 1986 hit “Change of Heart,”
The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that "Essra Mohawk released a dozen albums between 1967 and 2007, and was often compared to Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Laura Nyro."
"A self-described 'flower child,' she played the mandolin and other instruments as well as piano, and sang folk, pop rock, jazz, and blues as a headliner and alongside Frank Zappa, Joe Beck, Jerry Garcia, and more. She wrote hundreds of songs, dozens of which were recorded by the Shangri-Las, Vanilla Fudge, Keb Mo, and other notable singers. Tina Turner recorded her 'Stronger Than the Wind' in 1989."
From the 1960s until recently, Mohawk played in hundreds of pubs, clubs, and larger venues in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, and elsewhere.
Of note: While recording her acclaimed album Primordial Lovers in 1969, she married her producer, Canadian Frazier Mohawk (born Barry Friedman), and adopted his surname.