World Cafe Remembers The Musicians We Lost In 2017 : World Cafe We were lucky to have some of the artists who died in 2017 pass through the World Cafe to perform. Listen back to their sessions.
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World Cafe Remembers The Musicians We Lost In 2017

Three of the artists we lost in 2017: Tom Petty with Mudcrutch (left), Chuck Berry (top right), Jesse Zazu with Those Darlins (bottom right, credit: Veta & Theo). Courtesy of the artists hide caption

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Courtesy of the artists

Three of the artists we lost in 2017: Tom Petty with Mudcrutch (left), Chuck Berry (top right), Jesse Zazu with Those Darlins (bottom right, credit: Veta & Theo).

Courtesy of the artists

If the artist deaths we've collectively mourned over the past couple years have taught us anything, it's to celebrate our living heroes. See that tour. Cheer as loud as you can, while you can.

We were lucky to have some of the artists we lost in 2017 pass through the World Cafe to perform and speak with David Dye, and have collected their sessions below. We also remember Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Fats Domino, Chris Cornell, David Cassidy, Clyde Stubblefield, Prodigy, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Kim Jonghyun of SHINee, Bunny Sigler and more — artists who didn't make it into the Cafe for sessions, but whose music certainly reached and impacted us. We send love to the families, bandmates and fans of artists we lost this year, and we send eternal beams of thanks for their music out into the ether.

Hear The Sessions

  • Tom Petty (d. Oct. 2, 2017)

    Mudcrutch. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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    Courtesy of the artist

    Mudcrutch.

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    Ask 10 different music fans for their favorite Tom Petty song, and you'll get at least 14 different answers. Tom Petty wasn't big on the "leader" title when it came to the Heartbreakers — he preferred calling himself "the older brother they sometimes have to listen to." Months later, Petty's death still stings, and there's no doubt he'll be the older brother music fans listen to for a long time. Forever, really.

    In 2016, he came to the World Cafe with a reunited version of his original band, Mudcrutch.

    Tom Petty & Mudcrutch on World Cafe

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  • Chuck Berry (d. March 18, 2017)

    Chuck Berry, the subject of discussion in this session with his son Charles Berry Jr. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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    Chuck Berry, the subject of discussion in this session with his son Charles Berry Jr.

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    On Chuck Berry's 90th birthday, Oct. 18, 2016, he made an announcement: he would release his first new studio album in 40 years the following June. The album would contain mostly new material; the album would be called Chuck. Berry did not live to see its release. But the youthful vitality, energy and spirit Berry exudes on the posthumously released Chuck stands as a powerful missive — do what you love for as long as you can and you will never grow old. Berry will always be remembered as one of the pioneers, if not the pioneer, of rock 'n' roll, and as a man whose very presence on the airwaves defied, resisted and changed the segregated America in which he grew up.

    In August, I spoke to Berry's son, Charles Berry Jr. Charles shared memories of growing up watching the elder Berry on TV as a kid, joining him on tour in his later years and contributing to the album Chuck.

    Charles Berry Jr. On World Cafe

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  • Kevin Garcia of Grandaddy (d. May 2, 2017)

    Grandaddy performs at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, which was recorded for this World Cafe session. Tiana Timmerberg/WXPN hide caption

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    Tiana Timmerberg/WXPN

    Grandaddy performs at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, which was recorded for this World Cafe session.

    Tiana Timmerberg/WXPN

    "He was an actual angel. He navigated life with a grace, a generosity and a kindness that was utterly unique. And contagious. He is loved so deeply by so many." Based on Jason Lytle's statement on the passing of his Grandaddy bandmate Kevin Garcia, we can only assume that the bassist's musical talents were the smallest fraction of why his loss at the age of 41 feels so heartbreaking. A couple months before Garcia died, Grandaddy visited us at World Cafe to perform music from their first new album after a 10-year hiatus. I'm always an advocate for listening closely to bass lines — they're often the unsung hero of any song. You could say the same thing about the man himself.

    Grandaddy on World Cafe

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  • Gregg Allman (d. May 27, 2017)

    The legendary guitarist and songwriter performed on World Cafe. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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    The legendary guitarist and songwriter performed on World Cafe.

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    When Gregg Allman visited the Cafe for the last time in 2011 to perform and to talk about his album Low Country Blues, he had recently undergone an extremely painful liver transplant. He spoke to David Dye about how music got him through: "There's nothing like a feeling of having a real good record in the can, I mean I think that would be better than if you won the lottery. This was much better — this was a piece of my heart." Allman channeled pieces of his heart through music since the late '60s, when he and his brother Duane co-founded the legendary Southern-rock group, the Allman Brothers Band. Together they fused the sounds of country, blues and gospel with incendiary soul and the spirit of jazz, and they laid the inspiration and groundwork for generations of music. Gregg Allman's growl goes down in history as one of the most soulful, and in a guitar-heavy band, one can't imagine anyone holding it down on a Hammond B-3 quite like Allman did.

    Here is Allman's last appearance on World Cafe in 2011, when he performed songs from his seventh solo studio album, Low Country Blues.

    World Cafe Remembers The Musicians We Lost In 2017

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  • Glen Campbell (d. Aug. 8, 2017)

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    Glen Campbell.

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    Over a career that spanned six decades and 45 million records sold, country legend Glen Campbell gave us hits like "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Gentle On My Mind" and "Wichita Lineman" — delivered in that warm, crystal-clear tenor tone and with tremendous skill on the guitar. Among his many accolades and achievements, he replaced Brian Wilson on tour with the Beach Boys in 1964, he outsold the Beatles in 1968 and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. He also loved a lot — he had four wives and eight children. In 2011 Glen Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and let a documentary crew film his last tour for a film called I'll Be Me, where he bravely became a face for Alzheimer's. Earlier this year, Glen released Adiós, his final studio album, a collection of his go-to songs. His daughter Ashley said, "They were very much ingrained in his memory — like, so far back that they were one of the last things he started losing." No doubt Glen's songs and his legacy will remain ingrained in our collective memory long after his passing.

    Campbell visited the Cafe in 2008 to perform songs from his solo album of covers called Meet Glen Campbell.

    Glen Campbell in Studio on WXPN, 9/3/08

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  • Jessi Zazu (d. Sept. 12, 2017)

    Those Darlins. Veta & Theo/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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    Veta & Theo/Courtesy of the artist

    When Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins died of cervical cancer at 28 years old, our Nashville correspondent Ann Powers wrote a tribute that celebrated Jessi's contributions not just to the music of Music City, but to her whole community — as a leader, mentor and all-around inspiring human. Ann wrote: "I knew Jessi as a friend who instantly embraced me as a family member, and a loving mentor to my drummer daughter, Bebe, whose own budding rock 'n' roll career Jessi inspired and unfailingly supported. She rarely missed a show by the teenage bands she coached at rock camp, even after she became ill with the cancer that would eventually take her life." Please read Ann's entire tribute, published in this article. And then go hug someone you care about.

    Jessi and Those Darlins visited World Cafe in 2011.

    World Cafe Remembers The Musicians We Lost In 2017

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  • Charles Bradley (d. Sept. 23, 2017)

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    Charles Bradley.

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    Before he was the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," Charles Bradley worked a number of odd jobs, including as a cook in a hospital for the mentally ill and as a James Brown impersonator. Bradley made his solo debut in 2011, with a record called No Time For Dreaming; he was 62 years old. At an age when many people are starting to wind down their careers, Bradley was just embarking on the defining adventure of his. And even though Bradley passed away at 68, he exuded more charisma, passion and explosive star power performing and touring over his six years as a solo artist than most could muster over the course of a decades-long career.

    Bradley graced the Cafe twice — once in 2013 (heard here), and for the last time in 2016.

    Listen To Charles Bradley On World Cafe

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  • Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü (d. Sept. 13, 2017)

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    Grant Hart.

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    As drummer, co-singer and co-songwriter, Hart was responsible for some of the melodic hooks that added depth and accessibility to the music of hardcore icons Hüsker Dü. Hart came up against creative differences with Hüsker Dü's other singer and songwriter, guitarist Bob Mould, and although those differences were part of the reason the band eventually split, Mould had this to say after Hart died: "We made amazing music together. We (almost) always agreed on how to present our collective work to the world. When we fought about the details, it was because we both cared. The band was our life. It was an amazing decade."

    Hart went on to release music as a solo artist, and visited the Cafe in 2010 to talk about his 2009 solo album Hot Wax.

    World Cafe Remembers The Musicians We Lost In 2017

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  • Gord Downie (d. Oct. 17, 2017)

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    In May 2016, Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip announced he had been diagnosed with an aggressive, terminal form of brain cancer. Until the day he died, Gord was the epitome of grace and courage (coincidentally, the names of two of his band's most enduring songs). Here's a piece I wrote about seeing Gord and the Hip perform for the last time together, and what losing him meant to me. And here are my thoughts on the gift of Gord's final album Introduce Yerself, released after he died. I've heard from many listeners who've said they didn't really dig into The Tragically Hip until after hearing of Gord's passing. If that includes you, I'd recommend starting with the Hip's 1992 album Fully Completely or 1994's Day For Night, and letting your love affair with Gord and the guys grow from there. And check out their appearance on World Cafe back in 2007.

    The Tragically Hip in Studio on World Cafe - 05/24/2007

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  • Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens (d. Dec. 12, 2017)

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    Patti Singer/WXPN

    As lead singer and songwriter of New Jersey's The Smithereens, Pat DiNizio was a master of hooks and a passionate purveyor of rock 'n' roll. Over the course of 11 albums, The Smithereens earned the nickname "America's band," and their 1989 debut LP Especially For You even inspired Kurt Cobain. DiNizio also released 4 solo albums. Since his passing, DiNizio's bandmates have said "Pat had the magic touch," and no doubt anyone who's rocked out to "Blood And Roses" would agree.

    The Smithereens visited World Cafe to speak with David Dye in 2007.

    The Smithereens in Studio on World Cafe - 04/11/2007

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