Benjamin Franklin once quipped that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. When faced with death, people deal with their mortality in unique ways. While some spend their last days relaxing with loved ones, others decide to fill the remaining time creating something they can enjoy after they’re gone.
Ask someone to name a farewell album, and some of the most popular responses will probably include David Bowie’s. Black Starby Leonard Cohen you want it darkerand Warren Zevon Wind. However, other, more obscure artists have risen to the challenge of creating their final artwork before passing away. From rhythm and blues, jazz, blues, gospel, alternative rock, parody, house music, and even post-punk, the next 10 records were recorded by artists who knew the end was near.
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10 Goodbye (Gene Ammons)
Gene Ammons, “The Boss” or “Jug” as he was known, was a tenor saxophonist who recorded jazz music with traces of R&B and soul. Some who knew him described Ammons as a gentle giant. In the 1950s and 1960s, Ammons recorded on the Prestige record label, which led to recordings with such legends as Donald Byrd and John Coltrane.
In 1969, Gene Ammons was released from Statesville Penitentiary after serving a seven-year sentence for heroin possession. Some reports suggest that when Ammons was released, he had emphysema and an enlarged heart. Five months before Ammons died of bone cancer, he recorded the album Bye in New York City on March 18–20, 1974. In addition to being a standard jazz number, Bye now also stands as a suitable title for the latest albums of the great jazz
At that point, Ammons probably already knew how fragile his condition was and how advanced his metastatic cancer was. Later, after breaking his arm at a concert in Oklahoma City due to weak bones, Ammons flew back to his Chicago home, where he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Ammons passed away from bone cancer and pneumonia in August 1974.
9 Airbusters (hip link chain)
Known for his straightforward and straightforward guitar playing, Chicago blues wizard Willie Richard recorded under the name Hip Linkchain. Raised in Mississippi, Linkchain went on to play blues guitar in Chicago clubs in the 1950s. In 1959 Linkchain formed the Chicago Twisters and also recorded solo from time to time.
In 1989, Linkchain launched airbusters, which featured two recording sessions recorded between 1984 and 1987. The album is remembered for its driving guitar, strong vocals, and marking the last time Richard made a recording. The last sessions were recorded in May 1987. Richard later passed away in May 1989 from mesothelioma. Since a person with mesothelioma lives between four and 18 months after diagnosis, it is likely that Linkchain already felt the onset of the disease.
8 Traveling Through Dick Curless
With a baritone voice and an eyepatch, “Baron” Dick Curless made a name for himself in the 1960s as a traveling country singer. Best remembered for his 1965 hit, “A Tombstone Every Mile,” Curless had over twenty hits on the Billboard country charts.
In 1994, Curless recorded traveling through for Rounder Records in Brookfield, Massachusetts. The songs on the album are a mix of gospel, country and blues played simply. traveling through it includes sad ballads like “Crazy Heart” and “I Never Go Around Mirrors”, which is one of the strongest songs on the album. In addition, “I have no memory without her” is told from the perspective of a son who remembers her mother.
While recording the album, Curless felt sick but didn’t know he had cancer yet. Six months later, on May 25, 1995, Curless died of stomach cancer at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Togus, Maine. The cause of Curless’s stomach cancer is unknown.
7 Spirit Touches Ground (Josh Clayton-Felt)
After dropping out of college in the winter of 1987-1988, Josh Clayton-Felt moved to Los Angeles, where he soon formed a band, School of Fish, which was later signed to Capitol Records. School of Fish, however, was not to last and the band broke up.
From 1993 to 1994, Clayton-Felt recorded his first solo album for A&M Records. This album led to Clayton-Felt’s signing with A&M Records in 1996, while his next album had a single that he scored on alternative tracks and led to tours with Tori Amos. The second album, Inarticulate Nature Boyit did not sell well, and Clayton-Felt was dropped from his label.
In late December 1999, while working on his next album, Clayton-Felt went to the hospital with considerable back pain and other symptoms caused by late-stage choriocarcinoma, an aggressive form of testicular cancer. As the illness progressed, Clayton-Felt slipped into a coma, and a month later, she passed away at age 32 on January 19, 2000.
Clayton-Felt’s latest album, The spirit hits the ground, was released posthumously. Mixing and production on the album was finished a week before Clayton-Felt was diagnosed, meaning that in the last few months of making the record, he was likely already experiencing the pain and discomfort associated with testicular cancer.
6 Hymns That Are Important To Us (Joey Feek)
Born to a guitarist father in 1975, Joey Martin moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in the late 1980s to work at a horse veterinary clinic. That same year he met Rory Lee Feek, whom he would later marry. Not only did he perform as a solo country singer, but Joey Feek also recorded as one half of Joey + Rory with her husband.
In 2014, Feek was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After surgery and treatment, Feek went into remission for a year before feeling sick again. While undergoing cancer treatment, Feek and her husband recorded hymns in her hotel room, which are the couple’s latest album. Hymns that are important to usincluding a powerful rendition of “When I’m Gone.”
The following year, Feek announced that his cancer was terminal and that he would discontinue treatment. Fortunately, Feek lived long enough to see a Grammy nomination for one of her last songs. He passed away in March 2016. The album features twelve religious hymns and a reprise of “When I’m Gone,” a song from a previous Joey + Rory album.
5 Pop Crimes (Rowland S. Howard)
A visionary Australian guitarist, Rowland S. Howard first gained fame playing with Nick Cave’s bands The Boys Next Door and Birthday Party. Rowland is remembered for his long hair, his fondness for black clothing, and for carrying a cane.
For many years, Howard suffered from hepatitis C. In 2003, Howard was diagnosed with liver cancer and was awaiting a liver transplant. However, Howard died of hepatocellular carcinoma in December 2008. In 2009, Howard’s last album, popular crimes, was released and quickly gained a cult following despite its lack of commercial success. Recorded from the summer of 2008 to the winter of 2008, popular crimes it’s an album with a dark and haunted sound and includes a gritty version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Nothin.”
4 Man of my word (Johnny Adams)
Born in 1932 in New Orleans, Johnny Adams, or “the Tan Canary,” had his first minor hit in 1959 with “I Won’t Cry.” In the 1970s, Adams was briefly signed to the prominent national record label Atlantic Records. By the 1990s, Adams was touring nationally and intentionally and finally becoming known outside of New Orleans. Throughout his life, Adams recorded albums with some of New Orleans’ most famous musicians, including Dr. John, Duke Robillard and Harry Connick, Jr.
After a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 1998, Adams recorded his final album, man of my world. The recording sessions for the album were challenging for Adams, who was coping with the pain associated with cancer with one of her most memorable songs, “This Time I’m Gone for Good.” The album was well received as a strong R&B entry. In September 1998, Adams passed away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
3 I can dream (Max Merritt)
New Zealand singer-songwriter Max Merritt’s music is best described as a mix of soul and R&B. For a time, he fronted Max Merritt and the Meteors, which had several hits, including “Slippin’ Away” and “Hey, Western Union Man.” Max was viewed by many as one of the greatest artists of the 1960s and 1970s in New Zealand and Australia. In the 1960s, Max and his band moved to Australia, where he earned the nickname “King of Soul.” After living in England in the late 1960s, Merritt moved to the United States in the 1970s while continuing to tour Australia and New Zealand.
In April 2007, Merritt was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital and diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that affects the kidneys and lungs. From 2007 until her death, Merritt struggled with both his finances and his health. In September 2020, Merritt passed away in Los Angeles, California.
Shortly before Merritt died, he recorded an album, I can dreamwhich was later released posthumously. I can dream includes 10 of Merritt’s songs written between 2002 and 2020. Between 2014 and 2020, Max recorded some of his latest songs in a studio owned by Colin Hay, a Scottish/Australian musician and member of the band Men at Work.
2 77 trombones (Blowfly)
Clarence Reid, a masked artist once referred to as “hip-hop’s dirty weirdo guy,” called himself Blowfly. Under the name “Clarence Reid,” the musician released more funk, soul, and R&B music for bands like KC & the Sunshine Band. Like Blowfly, Clarence released sexually fueled songs that parodied popular songs. In 1973, Blowfly began releasing what would add up to 30 albums. Reid claimed to be the first rapper to have a song banned.
On January 12, 2016, Blowfly announced that he had terminal cancer which caused multiple organ failure. On the same day, Blowfly announced that his latest album, 77 trombones, would be released posthumously. On January 16, 2016, Blowfly passed away from cancer.
1 Summer Warehouse (i_o)
Garrett Falls Lockhart (or i_o, as he was known) dabbled in electronic dance house music. In 2019, i_o received substantial violence after collaborating with Grimes on Violence. The following year i_o released a trilogy of EPs called 444.
At the end of 2020, i_o signed with Armada Music Label, an exclusive record label. Unfortunately, later in the year, in November 2020, i_o passed away suddenly at age 30 from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder involving inflammation of the thyroid. Soon after, i_o’s estate released their first and probably last posthumous album, summer warehouse.
The 14 songs in summer warehouse they are best described as house music with techno elements, including titles like “Hold Me Down” and “Prayers”.
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