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GRAMMY-Winning Jazz Keyboardist Lyle Mays Dies At 66

Lyle Mays in 1988

Photo by Michel Delsol/Getty Images

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GRAMMY-Winning Jazz Keyboardist Lyle Mays Dies At 66

Lyle Mays will long be celebrated for his groundbreaking contemporary jazz recordings with the Pat Metheny Group.

GRAMMYs/Feb 12, 2020 - 04:47 am

Co-founder of the Pat Metheny Group and GRAMMY-winning contemporary jazz keyboardist and composer Lyle Mays has died at the age of 66. According to a statement released by the Pat Metheny group on Tuesday (Feb. 11), Mays passed away on Monday in Los Angeles after "a long battle with a recurring illness."

Mays' niece, Aubrey Johnson, took to Twitter to relay the news on Monday evening writing, "It is with great sadness that I share that my uncle, Lyle Mays, has passed this morning in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones.... He was my dear uncle, mentor, and friend and words cannot express the depth of my grief."

Introduced to jazz as a teenager, Mays was born into music. His parents played and passed down piano and guitar, while simultaneously he began learning and playing the organ. The Wausakee, Wisconsin native had already been doing public performances by the time he was nine.

A composer, orchestrator, pianist, guitar and trumpet player, Mays joined forces with guitarist Pat Metheny to create the Pat Metheny Group in 1974. The band was comprised of Mays, Metheney, and bassist and producer Steve Rodby, with Mays and Metheny taking the lead on most of the group’s compositions. Ultimately, the group went on to win 10 GRAMMYs and continually redefine what is known as contemporary jazz through their heavily fluid and genre-bending style.  

In a statement released, Metheny is quoted commenting on the life and legacy of his late friend and collaborator, saying, "Lyle was one of the greatest musicians I've ever known. Across more than 30 years every moment we shared in music was special," he said. "From the first notes we played together, we had an immediate bond. His broad intelligence and musical wisdom informed every aspect of who he was in every way. I will miss him with all my heart."

In addition to being a renowned artist in the right of the Pat Metheny Group, Mays also contributed solo efforts to recordings with Joni Mitchell and Earth, Wind, and Fire amongst many others. Mays contributed compositions and recordings for the children’s record, The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, he worked alongside Metheny to score several films including "The Falcon And The Snowman," and was also a self-taught computer programmer and architect.

Off the strength of his progressive, standout recordings alongside Pat Metheny, Mays won a total of 10 GRAMMYs and received 23 award nominations throughout his illustrious career. He was first nominated for the 1979 album American Garage in the Best Jazz Fusion Performance category at the 23rd Annual GRAMMY’s in 1980, and he went on to secure his first GRAMMY win three years later for the live album Travels in the Best Jazz Fusion Performance, vocal or instrumental category.

Details about a memorial service have yet to be announced, but the Mays family asks that any donations be made out to the CalTech Fund.

Recordings By Janet Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Odetta & More Inducted Into The National Recording Registry

Janet Jackson

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

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Recordings By Janet Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Odetta & More Inducted Into The National Recording Registry

Selections by Albert King, Labelle, Connie Smith, Nas, Jackson Browne, Pat Metheny, Kermit the Frog and others have also been marked for federal preservation

GRAMMYs/Mar 25, 2021 - 02:37 am

The Librarian of Congress Carla Haden has named 25 new inductees into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. They include Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814,” Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Nas’ “Illmatic,” Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” Kermit the Frog’s “The Rainbow Connection” and more.

“The National Recording Registry will preserve our history through these vibrant recordings of music and voices that have reflected our humanity and shaped our culture from the past 143 years,” Hayden said in a statement. “We received about 900 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry, and we welcome the public’s input as the Library of Congress and its partners preserve the diverse sounds of history and culture.”

The National Recording Preservation Board is an advisory board consisting of professional organizations and experts who aim to preserve important recorded sounds. The Recording Academy is involved on a voting level. The 25 new entries bring the number of musical titles on the registry to 575; the entire sound collection includes nearly 3 million titles. Check out the full list of new inductees below:

National Recording Registry Selections for 2020

  1. Edison’s “St. Louis tinfoil” recording (1878)

  2. “Nikolina” — Hjalmar Peterson (1917) (single)

  3. “Smyrneikos Balos” — Marika Papagika (1928) (single)

  4. “When the Saints Go Marching In” — Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra (1938) (single)

  5. Christmas Eve Broadcast--Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (December 24, 1941)

  6. “The Guiding Light” — Nov. 22, 1945

  7. “Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues” — Odetta (1957) (album)

  8. “Lord, Keep Me Day by Day” — Albertina Walker and the Caravans (1959) (single)  

  9. Roger Maris hits his 61st homerun (October 1, 1961)

  10. “Aida” — Leontyne Price, et.al. (1962) (album)

  11. “Once a Day” — Connie Smith (1964) (single)

  12. “Born Under a Bad Sign” — Albert King (1967) (album)

  13. “Free to Be…You & Me” — Marlo Thomas and Friends (1972) (album)

  14. “The Harder They Come” — Jimmy Cliff (1972) (album)

  15. “Lady Marmalade” — Labelle (1974) (single)

  16. “Late for the Sky” — Jackson Browne (1974) (album)

  17. “Bright Size Life” — Pat Metheny (1976) (album)

  18. “The Rainbow Connection” — Kermit the Frog (1979) (single)

  19. “Celebration” — Kool & the Gang (1980) (single)

  20. “Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs” — Jessye Norman (1983) (album)

  21. “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814” — Janet Jackson (1989) (album)

  22. “Partners” — Flaco Jiménez (1992) (album)

  23. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”/”What A Wonderful World” — Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1993) (single)

  24. “Illmatic” — Nas (1994) (album)

  25. “This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money” (May 9, 2008)

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Melvin Edmonds Of R&B Vocal Group After 7 Dies At 65

Melvin Edmonds

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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Melvin Edmonds Of R&B Vocal Group After 7 Dies At 65

Edmonds was the "soul" and "signature element" of the group said member Keith Mitchell

GRAMMYs/May 21, 2019 - 03:05 am

Melvin Edmonds of GRAMMY-nominated late-80s R&B vocal group After 7, known for hits like "Ready Or Not," has died at the age of 65. 

His death was confirmed by After 7 group member Keith Mitchell via Facebook. The cause of death has not been officially released. Essence reports Edmonds died Saturday after battling a short illness. The singer had a stroke in 2011 among other health issues, according to CNN.  

"I will miss you; I love you, and Melvin, your legacy will live on through the music we created together!!" Mitchell said in the post.

Edmonds was the "soul" and "signature element" of the group, wrote Mitchell, which the two co-founded along with one of Edmonds' brothers Kevon. After 7 had three singles land on the Billboard Hot 100 in the '90s. The singles, "Can't Stop," "Ready Or Not" and "Heat Of The Moment" all hit the top 20. The group was nominated for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Can't Stop" at the 33rd GRAMMY Awards

Beyond a musician, Edmonds was a father of four and brother to five, including Kenny "Babyface," Marvin Jr., Michael, Kevon and Derek.

"Melvin's love for audiences and fans everywhere who supported our music is what drove him on stage and in life. He is and will be missed by my family, fans, and friends," Mitchell said. 

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Keith Wilder, Heatwave Lead Singer, Dies

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Keith Wilder, Heatwave Lead Singer, Dies

The GRAMMY-nominated "Boogie Nights" and "Always And Forever" singer dies at age 65

GRAMMYs/Nov 1, 2017 - 04:10 am

Keith Wilder, the lead singer of GRAMMY-nominated '70s R&B/funk hitmakers Heatwave, died Oct. 29 at the age of 65. Wilder's death was confirmed by the group's manager, Les Spaine, via Rolling Stone. No specific cause of death has been confirmed, although fellow Heatwave band member Billy Jones told Dayton.com that Wilder died in his sleep.

Wilder, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, formed Heatwave in 1975 in Germany with his brother, Johnnie Wilder Jr., who was serving in the Army. The duo subsequently enlisted songwriter/keyboardist Rod Temperton, drummer Ernest "Bilbo" Berger, bassist Mario Mantese, and guitarists Eric Johns and Roy Carter.

In 1976 the group released their debut album, the platinum-plus Too Hot To Handle, which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200. The album spawned the hits "Boogie Nights" (No. 2) and "Always And Forever," both of which attained platinum status. Heatwave's sophomore LP, Central Heating, hit No. 10 on the strength of the Top 20 hit "The Groove Line." The group's third album, 1980's Hot Property, was certified gold.

Moving into a new decade, Heatwave released 1980's Candles and 1982's Current. By then, the group had lost Mantese, Wilder Jr. and Temperton, who at that point was emerging as a go-to songwriter for the likes of Michael Jackson, George Benson and Michael McDonald, among others.

Keith Wilder revamped Heatwave for 1988's The Fire, and kept the band alive as a touring entity into the '90s. While Wilder continued to tour in recent years, he was forced to retire from the road after suffering a stroke in 2015.

Wilder scored two nominations with Heatwave at the 20th GRAMMY Awards: Best Arrangement For Voices for "All You Do Is Dial" and Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus for "Boogie Nights"

"Johnnie was a MONSTER singer whose harmony game is unmatched," said Questlove in an Instagram post. "No REAL singer worth their grain of salt NEVER denied his mastery."

Recording Academy Remembers: Fats Domino

Mel Tillis, Legendary Country Singer/Songwriter, Dies

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

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Mel Tillis, Legendary Country Singer/Songwriter, Dies

Songwriter who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Tom Jones and Brenda Lee dies at age 85

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2017 - 08:59 pm

Mel Tillis, one of the more prolific singer/songwriters in country music history, died Nov. 19 following a battle with intestinal issues. He was 85 years old.

With a catalog of more than 1,000 songs, Tillis released more than 60 LPs over his six-decade-plus career. In the 1970s, Tillis hit a stride with a string of country chart smashes, including "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer" and "Coca Cola Cowboy." 

In addition to his successful solo career, Tillis wrote a variety of hits for artists such as Brenda Lee ("Emotions"), Webb Pierce ("I'm Tired"), Kenny Rogers ("Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town"), Charley Pride ("The Snakes Crawl At Night"), George Strait ("Thoughts Of A Fool"), Ricky Skaggs ("Honey, Open That Door"), and Tom Jones ("Detroit City"), among others.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss recorded Tillis' "Stick With Me Baby" for their T Bone Burnett-produced Raising Sand, which won Album Of The Year at the 51st GRAMMY Awards.

In 2007 he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tillis was awarded a National Medal of Arts in 2011 by President Barack Obama.

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