The Rap Music of Mike Brown, Slain Ferguson Teenager

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Ray Downs
Mourners gather for a candlelight vigil in Brown's honor.
The family of Mike Brown, an eighteen-year-old Ferguson teenager shot and killed by police on Saturday, August 9, has said that the young man recently took up a passion for music, with an interest in sound engineering and plans to study at Vatterott College next week. According to his grandmother, Desuirea Harris, "All he wanted to do is make music."

"Everyday he made one or two more records," she explains. "He rapped about life in general -- about what he went through and people went through. Just life."

See also: Family of Michael Brown, Teenager Shot to Death By Ferguson Police, Talks About His Life

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Gwar Frontman Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, Found Dead in Richmond Home

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Jon Gitchoff
Gwar frontman Dave Brockie, in his Oderus Urungus costume.
Dave Brockie -- best known as Oderus Urungus, lead singer and founding member of the shock-rock /heavy metal group Gwar -- was found dead in his home last night by a roommate. Brockie was 50 years old. The news was first broke by Style Weekly.

"At approximately 6:53 p.m. on Sunday, Richmond Police were called to a residence in the 4800 block of West Seminary Avenue for a report of a deceased individual," Richmond Police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh confirms. "When officers arrived, they found David M. Brockie, 50, deceased inside the home."

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RIP Bob Wagner, Local Deadhead and Jerry Garcia Lookalike; Memorial Show Tonight

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Michelle Whitacre
Bob Wagner
A long-time Grateful Dead fan with more than a passing resemblance to Jerry Garcia, Bob Wagner, passed away last week as a result of congestive heart failure. He died surrounded by his family and his passing is mourned by St. Louis' deadhead scene as well.

"I'm not sure what attracted Bob to [local GD cover act] Jake's Leg, or the Grateful Dead," says fellow fan Sara Chrismore, "but his entire being couldn't be more true to the scene. He was kind, funny, generous, happy, and loving."

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Holiday Bummer: Union Tree Review, Jack Buck, Rev Whiskey Richard All Break Up

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Press photo from 2012. By Jason Stoff.
Union Tree Review
The holidays are usually a time when families reunite to spend time together before eventually heading their separate ways. In a sense, that is what is happening for Jack Buck, and Rev Whiskey Richard and the Buster Hymen Band, both of which are disbanding after final shows this month. And Union Tree Review beat those groups to the punch by playing its final concert in November. All of the splits appear to be fairly amicable, meaning potential reunion shows haven't been ruled out in the distant future, but each of the three acts will be officially inactive by the end of the year.

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Time Will Be Kind: R.I.P. Lorna Donley, DA! Lead Singer

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An old press photo of DA! Donley is furthest on the right.

We at RFT Music were startled to see the news on Facebook that Chicago musician Lorna Donley passed away on Monday after what has been described as a brief, sudden illness.

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Lou Reed's Influence: Local and National Musicians Reflect

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Press Photo via Animal Lab Inc.
RIP Lou Reed
October 27 was anything but a perfect day for Lou Reed fans. As Rolling Stone first reported, the influential rock guitarist and daring songwriter passed Sunday; cause of death has not yet been released.

Through the Velvet Underground and his later solo work, Reed dismissed the fairytale of New York and brought stories of addiction, sexuality, abuse and unfair societal standards to a generation that was ready to move past past the romantic playground of '50s doo-wop. Over the years, countless artists -- from U2 to David Bowie to Weezer -- have declared Reed's pushing of boundaries and his gritty lyrics as influences on their careers.

Musicians around the world lamented the noisy guitarist's passing Sunday, sharing thoughts through social media and news outlets. John Cale, Reed's Velvet Underground bandmate and sometimes-estranged friend, had this to say:

See Also: Linger On: Six Distinctive Lou Reed and Velvet Underground Covers

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Linger On: Six Distinctive Lou Reed and Velvet Underground Covers

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Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Lou Reed RIP
The famous quote about the Velvet Underground -- of which the late Lou Reed was singer and primary songwriter -- is that everyone who heard them went on to form a band. There's no way to prove this: We'd argue that at least half of them became music journalists and/or zine editors. Nonetheless, there's no denying Reed's influence on several generations of brainy songwriters. He wasn't afraid to get heavy: "Sister Ray" and "Venus in Furs" still sound sleazy and confrontational, and 1975's Metal Machine Music consists of nothing but formless electronic noise. Yet, as the third and fourth Velvets albums proved, he was also capable of love songs: to romantic interests, to the Warhol/Factory denizens of his acquaintance and to having one's life changed by the radio.

Without the Velvet Underground and solo albums like Berlin and Transformer, there is simply no rock music as we know it today. Small wonder that Reed's death over the weekend touched such a nerve. It is not just as if one of rock & roll's icons passed; it's as if a little bit of rock & roll itself passed, too.

See Also: Lou Reed's Influence: Local and National Musicians Reflect

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R.I.P. Ken Brown: Poet, Mentor, Friend

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R.I.P. Ken Brown
On Saturday, September 21, RFT Music got word that St. Louis poet Ken Brown had passed away from liver failure. The prolific artist leaves behind a wealth of work and was highly influential in St. Louis' poetry scene. As such, we reached out to Joseph Sulier, well known for helping found the Get Born series of poetry readings in St. Louis, and asked him to write a memorial for his mentor and friend.

"Don't Think Twice, Its Alright"
In Memoriam of Kenneth Leighton Brown
By Joseph Sulier

The first words I ever heard uttered from Ken Brown's mouth, through a landline answering machine, were the perfect introduction to a man I would grow to befriend and admire: "Listen kid, I don't know who the fuck you are, but I think you might like to know who I am!" This was followed by the signature click of his landline receiver hitting the dial, which marked the end of every voicemail I would receive from then on, all of which I would go on to save due to either their comedy or poignancy.

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An Official Statement From Bob Reuter's Band, Alley Ghost

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Press Photo
Alley Ghost
Big Muddy Records leader/Alley Ghost member Chris Baricevic has released an official statement on behalf of Bob Reuter and his band. Reuter evidently named Baricevic as executor of his estate in his will. A service to honor Reuter's life and art is in the planning stages, and a memorial fund will be set up to help offset the cost associated with the undertaking. Any leftover funds will be used to establish a foundation for disadvantaged artists.

See also:
- Remembering Bob Reuter: St. Louis Speaks
- R.I.P. Bob Reuter, St. Louis Music Legend: Man Who Fell Down Elevator Shaft Identified

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R.I.P. Faye Hunter, Let's Active Bassist and Vocalist

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Image via
It's been a bad, bad year for 1980s jangle-pop. On Sunday night -- one day after a tribute concert for Scott Miller, the late Game Theory/Loud Family songwriter -- word leaked out on Facebook that Faye Hunter, Let's Active's original bassist, had passed as well.

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