LOS ANGELES (AP) — December 2010: Teena Marie, who made history as Motown's first white act but developed a lasting legacy with her silky soul pipes and with hits like "Lovergirl," "Square Biz," and "Fire and Desire" with mentor Rick James, has died. She was 54.

The confirmation came from a publicist, Jasmine Vega, who worked with Teena Marie on her last album. Her manager, Mike Gardner, also confirmed her death to CNN.

Teena Marie, known as the "Ivory Queen of Soul," was certainly not the first white act to sing soul music, but she was arguably among the most gifted and respected, and was thoroughly embraced by the black audience.

She was first signed to the legendary Motown label back in 1979 at age 19, working with James, with whom she would have long, turbulent but musically magical relationship.

The cover of her album, "Wild and Peaceful," did not feature her image, with Motown apparently fearing backlash by audiences if they found out the songstress with the dynamic voice was white.

But Marie notched her first hit, "I'm A Sucker for Your Love," and was on her way to becoming one of R&B's most revered queens. During her tenure with Motown, the singer-songwriter and musician produced passionate love songs and funk jam songs like "Need Your Lovin'," "Behind the Groove" and "Ooh La La La."

Marie had a daughter and had toured in recent years after overcoming an addiction to prescription drugs.

December 2010: *Bernie Wilson, a member of R&B group Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, has died. He was 64. Wilson, who sang baritone, died at Kresson View Center in Voorhees, N.J., following a stroke and a heart attack.

Jan. 2011: Gladys Horton (top left) , a founding member of the pioneering Motown girl group The Marvelettes who sang lead on their 1961 classic "Please Mr. Postman," died January 26th in Sherman Oaks, California from complications related a stroke. She was 66.  Horton and Mary Wilson were best  friends up until her death.

Smokey Robinson's Motown Memories:

Horton formed The Marvelettes (then known as the Casinyets) at Michigan's Inskter High School with members of her Glee Club when she was just 15. A 1961 talent show caught the attention of one of their teachers, who arranged an audition at Motown with Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson. The two-year old label had no experience with girl groups, but they signed the group — largely based on the powerful vocals of Horton and her group-mate Wanda Young.

Motown's Lost Heroes Emerge:

In the summer of 1961 Motown released their debut single "Dear Mr. Postman," which featured Marvin Gaye on drums. It eventually shot to Number One and the Marvelettes were put on the road. "We went through hell on those tours," Marvelette Wanda Young recalled in J. Randy Taraborrelli's 1986 book Motown. "It was so bad — the traveling, the food, the accommodations — that Juanita [Coward] went right into a nervous breakdown. We had to put her under medical care and she left the group in 1963." Despite the difficulties, the group's success helped transform Motown into a major record label and paved the way for The Ronettes, The Supremes and all girl groups that followed.

Horton sang lead on many of the group's other early 1960s hits, including "Beechwood 4-5789," "Playboy" and "Too Many Fish In The Sea." By the mid-1960s Motown turned their attention towards The Supremes and Martha & The Vandellas, and the Marvelettes' winning streak slowed down. In 1965 Wanda Young began singing lead on many songs (including "Don't Mess With Bill") and in 1967 Horton left the group — in part to care for her handicapped son.

When Horton returned to the stage in later years she had to tour as "Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes" because she didn't own the name rights, a very common situation for artists of that era. She continued to regularly perform until she suffered a stroke last year.

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Ollie Matson has died of respiratory failure at age 80, the University of San Francisco said.

Matson passed away Saturday at his home in Los Angeles.

Matson played for the Chicago Cardinals from 1952-58 and then was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for nine players. After four years with the Rams, he spent one with Detroit before finishing his career with three seasons in Philadelphia.

Matson made the all-pro team seven times and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.

During his 14-year career, he ran for 5,173 yards on 1,170 carries (4.4-yard average) and 40 touchdowns. He also caught 222 passes for 3,285 yards (14.8-yard average) and another 23 scores.

Matson starred at the University of San Francisco, earning All-America honors and helping the Dons go 9-0 in 1951. The team passed up a post-season bowl game in the South that season because the invitation carried the condition that the two blacks on the team, Matson and Burl Toler, stay home.

Matson also won two Olympic medals in the 1952 Helsinki Games in the 400 meters and the 400-meter relay.

Feb. 2011: Dave Duerson, a starting safety on the 1985 Chicago Bears team that won the Super Bowl, was found dead in his Miami home, the team said Friday. He was 50.

Miami-Dade Police Detective Robert Williams says the body of a Dave Duerson was found Thursday in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. Computer records show that the Duerson who lived at the address was born the same month and year as the player.

Investigators have not determined the cause of death. Williams says detectives are awaiting the medical examiner's report.

"Our family asks that you please remember Dave as a good, kind, and caring man," Duerson's ex-wife, Alicia Duerson, said, according to NBCChicago.com. "He loved and cherished his family and friends and was extremely proud of his beloved Notre Dame and ... Chicago Bears. Please keep Dave and our family in your prayers."

The Bears selected Duerson in the third round of the 1983 draft after an All-America career at Notre Dame.

He became a full-time starter for the 1985 "Super Bowl Shuffle" team that was known for its dominating defense. That team finished the regular season 15-1 and had two shutouts in the playoffs before dismantling the Patriots 46-10 in the Super Bowl.

March 2011: Former outfielder and hitting coach Mitchell Page died, according to MLB.com. He was 59. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Page, born and raised in Los Angeles, played eight seasons in the major leagues, including from 1977 to '83 with the Oakland Athletics and in 1984 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His best season was as a rookie when he hit 21 home runs with 75 RBI, a .307 average and 42 stolen bases to finish second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting to Eddie Murray.

He worked as a coach in the minor and major leagues, first serving as a first base coach for the Kansas City Royals in 1995. He was also a hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals.

March 2011: Bernard St. Clair Lee, 66, a baritone singer and original member of the Hues Corporation, which had an early disco hit in 1974 with "Rock the Boat," died at his home in Lake Elsinore, said Ava Dupree, a family spokeswoman. He died of natural causes.

The Los Angeles Police Department confirms an officer shot and killed fitness model and former college football star Reggie Doucet Jr. during a violent struggle with officers. Doucet, who was unarmed, was described as "naked and yelling" in a street after arguing with a cab driver over an unpaid fare.


Police say 25-year-old Reggie Doucet repeatedly punched the officers and tried to take their guns. The shooting happened just after 3 a.m. Friday in the 5600 block of Crescent Way West after LAPD officers responded to a disturbing the peace call.

Doucet apparently took a taxi to the location, began stripping off his clothing and running around naked. A witness said she heard screaming and commotion outside her window as police chased after the naked suspect. At some point, the suspect put on boxers. "I heard them try to detain him and he would not comply; and there was a fight, a physical fight," she said. She then heard two gunshots.

KTLA quotes friends who say Doucet was "intoxicated" after leaving a club. The LA Times and LA Weekly report Doucet was "yelling and behaving erratically" and suggest there could have been psychological issues.

The former quarterback for Middle Tennessee State University had an outstanding season in 2006, where he started five games and played in all 13 games. Doucet segued into modeling and fitness training and was recently featured as "Eye Candy" at Essence.com.

Source: Bossip

Oct. 2010: A man walking near the Oakwood Plaza shopping center in Edison found the body of Sean John model-Jubar (Esco) Croswell, 30, (above) off a leafy street last Thursday about 2:15p.m., Middlesex County prosecutors said.

Croswell, who lived in Fort Greene, was wearing a Louis Vuitton belt and Jet Lag cargo pants when he was discovered. It was not immediately clear how long he had been dead when he was found.

NYPD sources said Croswell was reported missing on Sept. 17, four days after he was last seen.

The cause of death is still being investigated by local authorities

Esco’s numerous friends in the industry are mourning his death, it was suspected weeks ago when he went missing that he might be dead.

While what happened remains a real mystery, there are some clues that the mainstream press hasn’t mentioned — such as the fact his car was discovered burned up in Brooklyn several weeks ago.

Esco is survived by a newborn son and the child’s mother, as well as his mother, father and brother.

General Johnson (right) 67, lead singer of the Chairmen Of The Board and best known for the 1970 hits "Give Me Just A Little More Time," and "Pay To The Piper," died at his home in Atlanta.  As a songwriter, his credits include: Clarence Carter's "Patches," Freda Payne's "Bring The Boys Home," and Honey Cone's "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," and "Want Ads."

Duane L. Jones (February 2, 1936 – July 22, 1988) was an actor, best known for his role as Ben in the 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead.

A graduate of the Sorbonne, Jones studied acting in New York City. His role in Night of the Living Dead marked the first time a black actor was cast as a starring role in a horror film. He taught acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As executive director of the Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (RACCA), he promoted African-American theater.

After leaving the American Academy of Dramatic Arts he taught a select group of students privately in Manhattan, by invitation only. His hand-selected students were of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

He spent his later years as a professor of theatre at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, where the Duane L. Jones Recital Hall is named for him.

He died of cardiopulmonary arrest in 1988. Up until his death, he proclaimed that he had never watched any of the other 'dead' films, nor any other George Romero picture, claiming that "Night of the Living Dead," was 'his' time.

Singer/songwriter-turned-music mogul Harvey Fuqua (far right) has died after suffering a heart attack.

The 80-year-old star, whose nephew is director Antoine Fuqua, passed away in a hospital in Detroit, Michigan on July 6, 2010.

Fuqua began his career in the music industry as a singer and songwriter with the 1950s doo-wop group the Moonglows. Fuqua was the male voice on the final Supremes record "Someday We'll Be Together Again."  Fuqua was also married to Berry Gordy's sister (above).

He quit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame group in 1958 and went on to become a key player in the development and success of the Motown record label in Detroit, helping his then-brother-in-law Berry Gordy set up the company by helping to distribute its first hit single, Barrett Strong's Money (That's What I Want), through his own Anna Records.

Fuqua later sold the label to Gordy and accepted a position as a songwriter and executive at Motown.

He also worked with blues icon Etta James during a stint at Chess Records and went on to serve as Smokey Robinson's road manager.

Throughout his career Fuqua was linked to soul legend Marvin Gaye - he discovered the young singer when he was part of Washington, D.C. group the Marquees and reunited with him to produce the Sexual Healing singer's acclaimed final album Midnight Love.

Fuqua also wrote and produced the majority of Sylvester's disco hits.

Al Goodman of the Moments and later Ray, Goodman & Brown died on July 28th, 2010. Goodman died of heart failure during surgery to remove a tumor. He was 63. Goodman also sung background on Alicia Keys' hit "You Don't Know My Name."

Sept. 2010: James Stovall, a Broadway actor who worked with Bob Fosse and acted in the original production of Ragtime, died Sept. 26 at a hospital in Manhattan, his talent agency, Abrams Artists & Associates confirmed. The cause of death and his age could not be determined at press time, but Mr. Stovall had been suffering from heart problems.

Mr. Stovall most recently appeared on Broadway in the 2009 revival of Finian's Rainbow. He was a preacher and a "Begat" singer. Stovall also starred alongside Debbie Allen in "Sweet Charity." Allen was his first dance teacher. RIP.

2010: Albertina Walker, the undisputed queen of gospel died at 81, of respiratory failure.  Mahalia Jackson was Walker's mentor. Walker also gave James Cleveland his big break and she introduced Shirley Caesar to the world.  She was one of the first to recognize the talent of Donny Hathaway.  Dr. Bobby Jones co-hosted Walker's last birthday celebration.  Vicki Winans says: "She paved the way for me and made sure I had a way to make it."  Fred Hammond shared a close bond with Walker.  The gospel field lost a giant!  Source: Jet Magazine.

Janet MacLachlan of the stage and screen, died on October 11, 2010 in Los Angeles.  She had suffered from cardiovascular issues recently, MacLachlan was 77.

Her life was a successful one filled with roles both on and off the stage. MacLachlan had worked with numerous actors and actresses, including Bill Cosby, Jim Brown, James Earl Jones and Maya Angelou.

In the 1960's and 1970's, she would refuse to act in the popular Blaxploitation films of that era. MacLachlan often took roles as a social worker, teacher, nurse, doctor, psychiatrist or judge.

She would be featured in numerous television shows over the next five decades.

MacLachlan won an Emmy Award for her performance in "Voices Of Our People: In Celebration Of Black Poetry."

She is survived by her daughter, actress Samantha MacLachlan and a sister.

November 2010: Maurice Lucas (above, left), the fierce power forward known as “The Enforcer” who helped lead the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, has died after a long fight with bladder cancer. He was 58. Lucas, who in later years was an assistant coach with the Blazers, died Sunday at his home in Portland.

Nov. 3, 2010: Shannon Tavarez, the 11-year-old Broadway actress who starred in the hit musical "The Lion King," died after a long battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Diagnosed with leukemia in April, Tavarez had difficulty finding a bone marrow match because of her mixed ethnicities (African-American and Hispanic). Rihanna and Alicia Keys attempted to raise awareness for the performer by encouraging fans to register as donors.

Quintin "Q" Dailey (January 22, 1961 – November 8, 2010) was a professional basketball player. A 6'3" guard who played collegiately at the University of San Francisco, he later went on to a career in the NBA, playing for the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, and Seattle SuperSonics over the course of his 10-year tenure in the league.

Daily died in his sleep on November 8, 2010, due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

Carl Gordon, who parlayed his acclaimed work on stage into a breakout role on the working-class sitcom 'Roc' -- a comedy that for two seasons in the early 1990s aired live and unedited -- died on Tuesday at his home in Jetersville, Virginia. He was 78.

His family told the New York Times that the cause was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

On 'Roc,' Gordon played straight-talking Andrew Emerson, whose son Roc (played by Charles S. Dutton) spent his days as a garbage collector in Baltimore. The walls of their modest home were strewn with portraits of Malcolm X, and although the show took a traditional tone with most of its jokes, it would occasionally tackle weighty topics like racism and inner city drug problems.

The show, which also featured a young Jamie Foxx, aired for only three seasons before FOX canceled it in 1993. It was in its second and third seasons that the show switched to a live format, a rarity in the world of sitcoms.

After 'Roc,' he worked steadily in television, making guest appearances on 'ER,' 'The Practice' and 'Law and Order.'

Gordon didn't start acting until he reached his late thirties, and found success on Broadway in plays like 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death' and later the August Wilson classic 'The Piano Lesson.'

He is survived by his third wife, Jacqueline Alston-Gordon, a son, and five daughters.

July 2010: R&B singer Sylvia Shemwell, 68, a founding member of the legendary Sweet Inspirations, died of natural causes in Winnetka, Calif.  Shemwell never fully recovered from a stroke in 2001.  The group featured Cissy Houston (Whitney Houston's mother), Estelle Brown and Myrna Smith.  They were best known for the 1968 hit "Sweet Inspiration."  A sought-after backup singer, Shemwell worked with Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, The Bee Gees, Roberta Flack and Elvis Presley.  In their prime, the Sweet Inspirations were the most requested and best background singers in the industry.

July 2010: Walter Hawkins, one of the voices behind the 1967 hit "Oh Happy Day," has passed away. Hawkins succumbed to a long battle with pancreatic cancer on Sunday at his home in California, his brother Edwin -- also a Grammy winner -- tells the Associated Press.

"Today, I lost my brother, my pastor, and my best friend," said Edwin Hawkins. "Bishop Hawkins suffered bravely but now he will suffer no more and he will be greatly missed."

The two performed together as the Edwin Brothers in the 1960s and enjoyed crossover success with "Oh Happy Day," one of the first Gospel songs to cross into the mainstream charts. Not only did the song win a Grammy; it was also named one of the RIAA's Songs of the Century.

Hawkins received his divinity degree at UCLA, studying while releasing solo albums. In 1973 he became a pastor, founding the Love Center Church in Oakland. Never far from music, Hawkins was very involved in the Love Center Choir. The Love Center Choir's music, released as "Love Alive" compilations, topped gospel charts from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Hawkins, who was nominated for nine Grammy Awards over his career but only won once, died while working on his next "Love Alive" record.

Oct. 2010: Soul singer Solomon Burke died at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, aged 70, after flying in from Los Angeles.

Known as the King of Rock and Soul, the Grammy winner was a preacher turned singer and had released his latest album, Nothing’s Impossible, in April.

He mixed gospel with rhythm and blues and made several soul classics, including the 1964 hit Somebody to Love.

Famed RB producer Jerry Wexler referred to him as the “best soul singer of all time”, according to Burke’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame biography.

A local news agency said Burke was declared dead at Schiphol and a doctor said he had died of natural causes. His body will be returned to the US next week.

A Schiphol airport spokeswoman in Amsterdam confirmed Burke had died, but could not provide further details.

Born on March 21st, 1940, in Philadelphia, Burke started singing in church choirs at a young age and later became a minister.

He presented gospel music on a local radio station and made some recordings between 1954 and 1958 before obtaining a contract with Atlantic Records in 1960.

He won a Grammy as recently as 2003, owned a church, a funeral enterprise and a limousine rental service.

He was known for his showmanship and on stage would sometimes sit on a throne, resplendent in regal robes. He had 21 children and 90 grandchildren. – (Reuters)

CBS News/48 hours correspondent Harold Dow (above), who won five news Emmys and the George Foster Peabody award, died Saturday after an apparent acute asthma attack while driving near his home in Hackensack, NJ. He was 62.


by: Mike Lopresti

July 2010: It has always been hard to mention one scarred man without adding the other.

Stingley will always be the New England receiver who ended up paralyzed in a wheelchair.

Tatum will always be the Oakland defensive back whose tackle put him there.

And here is one of the saddest things of all:

They never spoke after that terrible intersection of fates. They never reconciled.

There was never a postscript to ease any of the anguish. They were never able to look each other in the eye, and at least try to make some sense of one of the NFL's true tragedies.

They never will.

Even now, the replay is hard to watch, hinting of something ominous. You see Stingley in a white Patriots uniform cutting across the middle, reaching out for a pass, slightly off balance on his right leg. Tatum is there for the Raiders, taking aim at Stingley with one of those helmet-on-helmet tackles that earned him his feared nickname, The Assassin.

Even though it was only an exhibition game, Stingley was an opposing receiver, and in Tatum's world, that made him an enemy. Stingley never had a chance.

That lunge on his right leg was the final step of his life. There was nothing illegal about the tackle under the rules of 1978. No flag was thrown, no fine was assessed. It was the kind of hit that fans craved, and networks showed on the highlights.

Only. .. Stingley wasn't moving.

The NFL got a hard lesson that day on where the violence of its game — the violence that had won it such speedy favor on television — might lead.

New rules would come later banning such hits as the one Tatum made that day. The game would become safer. But it was too late to help Darryl Stingley

They were supposed to get together once, for a joint television interview in 1996. But Stingley found out Tatum would be pushing his new book, apparently didn't want to be part of a promotional effort, and pulled out.

Looking through various reported quotes from the two men and their camps through the years, there always seemed a chasm of misunderstanding, or mistrust, or hard feelings.

Stingley was said to be hurt that Tatum never came by after the incident.

Tatum was quoted as saying he tried, but was kept away by the Stingley family.

Stingley was reportedly upset he never heard an apology.

Tatum was quoted as saying he felt bad about what had happened, but had not done anything illegal to apologize for. The league and the fans and the media had honored him for being a hard tackler. Had everyone forgotten that?

You can find supporters of Stingley charging that Tatum never showed remorse, and indeed cherished being The Assassin to the final game of his career.

You can find supporters of Tatum saying he was deeply troubled by what had happened.

Stingley had three children and started an organization to help troubled youths in Chicago. He died of complications from his injury.

Tatum had three children and started an organization in Ohio to raise funds for diabetes research. He died of an apparent heart attack.

When news came in 2003 of Tatum losing part of his leg, Stingley told The Boston Globe: "Maybe the natural reaction is to think he got what was coming to him, but I don't accept human nature as our real nature. Human nature teaches us to hate, God teaches us to love."

When Stingley died, Tatum released a statement, "Darryl will be forever remembered for his strength and courage. My heart and prayers go out to his family."

Too bad they could never say such things to one another. They stayed distant men, but they are destined to be forever connected.

Her name and face might not be instantly recognizable to many, but Ola Hudson was a popular costume designer who clothed John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Diana Ross, and David Bowie, specifically for The Man Who Fell To Earth. Ola had two sons — Saul and Albion Hudson. Albion’s nickname is Ash, and Saul… well, his nickname is Slash-rock star. Ola Hudson died in 2009.

Altovise Davis (August 30, 1943 – March 14, 2009). Altovise was an entertainer, best known as Sammy Davis, Jr.'s third wife. She died of complications from a stroke, aged 65, on March 14, 2009 in Los Angeles.

Ron Banks (pictured above-center back row) silky falsetto helped give the Dramatics one of the most enduring careers in R&B, died at his home in Detroit. He was 58. Banks died at about noon on March 4, 2010, possibly of a massive heart attack, said Billy Wilson, president of the Motown Alumni Association.

Tony Fein, an Iraq war veteran and NFL rookie linebacker who played with the Baltimore Ravens during the preseason, died in 2009 of unexplained causes after collapsing at a friend`s house in what his agent said appears to be "an accidental situation."

Vernon "the Viper" Forrest (February 12, 1971 – July 25, 2009) was a professional boxer. He was a world champion in the welterweight and light middleweight divisions and is best known for his two fights with Shane Mosley.

In his professional debut in November 1992, Forrest defeated Charles Hawkins. Through 1996, Forrest stopped 13 out of 15 opponents. Five were stopped in the first round. As the years went by Forrest won a few minor title belts. It the year 2000 Forrest finally got his chance to fight for the IBF welterweight title against Raul Frank. A cut caused by an accidental head butt ended the bout in round three and the fight was therefore ruled a no contest.

On the evening of July 25, 2009, Forrest was shot dead during an attempted carjacking in Atlanta, Georgia. Forrest was shot seven or eight times as he attempted to stop carjackers from stealing his Jaguar, which had his girlfriend`s son in the backseat. The child is said to be alright.

The suicide of a boxer competing in the upcoming NBC reality series "The Contender" won't derail plans for the program, according to the network and its production partners.

Najai Turpin, 23, fatally shot himself in the head early Monday morning in Philadelphia, police said. He was one of 16 boxers vying for the $1 million prize on "Contender," which was produced for NBC by Mark Burnett Prods. Sylvester Stallone and DreamWorks.

The circumstances surrounding Turpin's suicide were unclear immediately after his death, but various reports suggested Turpin was dealing with personal problems. The suicide occurred in a parked car in front of the home of his girlfriend -- with whom he has a 2-year-old daughter -- while she was in the car. Both Turpin's daughter and girlfriend appeared on the program, which focuses on boxers' lives in and out of the ring.

Alaina Reed Hall (November 10, 1946 – December 17, 2009) was an American actress best known for her roles as Olivia, Gordon`s younger sister, on the long-running children`s television series Sesame Street, and Rose Lee Holloway on the NBC sitcom 227. Born as Bernice Ruth Reed in Springfield, Ohio, she began her career in Broadway and off-Broadway productions. She was among the original cast members in the 1974 off-Broadway production of Sgt. Pepper`s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road. Hall appeared in productions of Hair, Chicago, and Eubie!. In 1976, she won the role of Olivia on the children`s series Sesame Street. Her character was a photographer and kid sister of Gordon.

In 1985, Hall co-starred on the sitcom 227, frequently traveling between New York (where Sesame Street is taped) and Los Angeles (where 227 was taped). Due to this frantic schedule, she left Sesame Street in 1988. After 227 ended in 1990, Hall appeared in guest roles on various TV shows, including Herman`s Head and Blossom. She also provided the voice for the animated characters on Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? and Sonic the Hedgehog. In 1995, Hall co-starred on the short-lived WB sitcom Cleghorne!, starring Ellen Cleghorne. The following year she appeared in the television film The Cherokee Kid. She has since had recurring roles on Ally McBeal, Any Day Now, and ER. In addition to stage and television work, Hall has also appeared in several films including Death Becomes Her (1992), opposite Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep, Cruel Intentions (1999), and the 2007 independent feature I`m Through with White Girls (The Inevitable Undoing of Jay Brooks).

Hall was married three times. Her first marriage, which produced two children, ended in divorce. In December 1988, she married actor Kevin Peter Hall after meeting him when he guest starred on 227. She was widowed in 1991 after her husband died of pneumonia-related complications after contracting AIDS. In 2008, Hall married Tamim Amini. On December 17, 2009, Hall died of breast cancer in Santa Monica, California at the age of 63.

Naomi Ruth Sims (March 30, 1948 - August 1, 2009) was an African American model, businesswoman and author who is widely credited as being the first African American supermodel.  She died of breast cancer on August 3, 2009, aged 61, in Newark, New Jersey. Her 1973 marriage to Michael Findlay ended in divorce in 1991. She is survived by her son, Bob Findlay, a granddaughter, and her elder sister, Betty Sims. Her eldest sister, Doris, died in 2008.

LeRoi Holloway Moore (September 7, 1961 – August 19, 2008) was a saxophonist best known as a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band. Moore often arranged music for the songs written by frontman Dave Matthews. Moore also co-wrote many of the band's songs, notably "Too Much" and "Stay (Wasting Time)."

Moore was injured on June 30, 2008, in an all-terrain vehicle accident on his farm outside Charlottesville, Virginia, breaking several ribs and puncturing a lung, and was hospitalized at UVA for several days. Moore was riding the ATV to another part of his farm to check a fence when the vehicle hit a grass-covered ditch. This caused the ATV to flip and partially land on Moore.

After Moore was released from the University of Virginia Health System, he traveled to his home in Los Angeles, California, to start his rehabilitation program. On the morning of August 19, Moore was feeling unwell and those who were present could see that his lips were turning blue. It was at this point that he was rushed to the hospital, but died shortly thereafter. While it was widely reported that he had died from a blood clot, the coroner's office determined his cause of death to be pneumonia.

Anna Marie Wooldridge (August 6, 1930 – August 14, 2010), and better known by her stage name Abbey Lincoln, was a jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress. Lincoln was unusual in that she wrote and performed her own compositions, expanding the expectations of jazz audiences.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, she was one of many singers influenced by Billie Holiday. She had a very long and productive career and continued to perform until the time of her death. She often could be found at the Blue Note in New York City.

With Ivan Dixon, she co-starred in Nothing But a Man (1964), an independent film written and directed by Michael Roemer. She also co-starred with Sidney Poitier and Beau Bridges in 1968's For Love of Ivy, and received a 1969 Golden Globe nomination for her appearance in the film.

Abbey Lincoln also appeared in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It, for which she famously wore a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentleman Prefer Blondes and interpreted the theme song, working with Benny Carter.

She sang on the 1960s landmark jazz civil rights recording, We Insist! – Freedom Now Suite (1960) by jazz musician Max Roach and was married to him from 1962 to 1970. Especially since this album, Abbey Lincoln was connected to the political fight against racism in the United States.

In 1990, she played the role of young Bleek Gilliams' mother in the Spike Lee movie Mo' Better Blues who was very insistent that Bleek, played as an adult by Denzel Washington, come inside their house and practice his trumpet instead of playing outside with his friends.

In 2003, she received the National Endowment for the Arts NEA Jazz Masters Award.

Abbey Lincoln died on August 14, 2010, in Manhattan, at the age of 80.

Sylvester James (September 6, 1947 – December 16, 1988) better known as Sylvester, was a disco and soul singer, and a gay drag performer. Sylvester was sometimes known as the "Queen of Disco," although this moniker has also been bestowed on some of the women of the disco era (i.e. Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer).

Sylvester James was born in Los Angeles, California, into a low-income family, and he was raised by his mother, Letha. According to TV One's Unsung, he lived in a tiny two-room house, where he and his brother shared a bunk bed. He was the oldest of six children. His father was not in his family's life. Many of the facts of his early life are uncertain, and birth dates from 1944 to 1948 have surfaced. One thing is certain though: Sylvester was a child gospel star.

Sylvester signed a solo deal with Fantasy Records in 1977, working with the production talents of legendary Motown producer Harvey Fuqua, who produced his album Stars in 1979. Sylvester later alleged that Fuqua cheated him out of millions of dollars. Sylvester soon met his frequent collaborator Patrick Cowley. Cowley's synthesizer and Sylvester's voice proved to be a magical combination, and pushed Sylvester's sound in an increasingly dance-oriented direction; his second solo album, Step II (1978), unleashed two disco classics: "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," and "Dance (Disco Heat)". These two songs charted together on the American dance chart, and spent six weeks at #1 on this chart in August and September 1978. By this time both his live shows and recordings also recognizably featured the back-up vocals of Two Tons O' Fun: future Weather Girls Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes. 1979 brought three Billboard awards and an appearance in the movie, The Rose, starring Bette Midler. He sung "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" live for The Castro Street Fair, thanks to future first openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk.

Sylvester died of complications from AIDS in San Francisco on December 16, 1988. He was 41 years old.

On September 20, 2004 Sylvester's anthem record, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)", was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. A year later, on September 19, 2005, Sylvester himself was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievement as an artist.

Desmond Dekker (July 16, 1941 – May 25, 2006 was a Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae singer-songwriter and musician. Together with his backing group, The Aces (consisting of Wilson James and Easton Barrington Howard), he had one of the first international Jamaican hits with "Israelites". Other hits include "007 (Shanty Town)" (1967) and "It Miek" (1969). Before the ascent of Bob Marley, Dekker was one of the most popular musicians within Jamaica, and one of the best-known musicians outside it.

Dekker died of a heart attack on 25 May 2006, at his home in Thornton Heath in the London Borough of Croydon, England, aged 64. He was preparing to headline a world music festival in Prague. Dekker was divorced and is survived by a son and a daughter.

Wayman Lawrence Tisdale (June 9, 1964 – May 15, 2009) was a professional basketball player in the NBA and a smooth jazz bass guitarist. A three-time All American at the University of Oklahoma he was elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Tisdale died on the morning of May 15, 2009 at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, where his wife had taken him when he had trouble breathing. Tisdale's agent described his death as a "great shock" and noted that Tisdale had been planning to go into the recording studio the following week for a project with jazz guitarist Norman Brown.As yet, it is unconfirmed whether his death was related to his battle with cancer.Tisdale and his wife Regina had four children.

On May 21, 2009, 4,000 mourners attended Tisdale's memorial service at the BOK Center in Tulsa. In June 2009 the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa announced that its new specialty health clinic in north Tulsa would be named in Tisdale's honor.


Sherrick was a dynamic singer with an incredible range. He also had charisma, sex appeal and he was tall and handsome.

In the 80's he could have easily been as successful as Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson, unfortunately, he never reached his full potential.

Like Sly Stone, David Ruffin and Jimi Hendrix, Sherrick fell victim to drugs.


Sherrick was discovered by Raynoma Gordy (Berry Gordy's ex-wife). They formed a production company. Raynoma also managed his career and promised him a contract with Motown.

After the meeting, she didn't hear from him for two weeks. Out of the blue, he called her from Austin, TX., and arranged for her to pick him up from the airport.

Raynoma became his mentor and he even moved in with her for a short time. Instead of signing with Motown, Raynoma got him a contract with Warner Brothers records, at that time, Benny Medina headed up the black division.

A few weeks later, Raynoma was standing in a hall outside of Sherrick's hospital door. He had disappeared again for three days, and Raynoma had received a call from his girlfriend (Rita) saying that Sherrick had turned up in the hospital.

When Raynoma went to visit him, he burst into tears and told her he was addicted to cocaine.

Sherrick agreed to check into a 28 day rehab program at the hospital. He made excellent progress. When he was released, Raynoma took him home and was preparing steaks he quietly took her car keys, slipped out of a side door and disappeared. His rehabilitation had lasted less than 8 hours.

At 4 a.m. in the morning, he called asking her to come at once and meet him in downtown L.A. with $100 dollars. She borrowed a friend's car and drove through the most nightmarish section of the city, where no one was safe, day or night.

She saw him. Her headlights reflected off a lone, frightened figure, standing disheveled and without shoes, a walking corpse.

"Where's my car?" she demanded.

"Give me the money and wait right here," Sherrick said. Taking the cash, he disappeared down a dark alley.

A few minutes later, Raynoma saw her car coasting in her direction, a stranger at the wheel.

This scenario would play out again. Only it was a worse neighborhood and he needed two hundred dollars. The same cycle, the same impassioned pledge that nothing could shake his commitment to his career. When it happened the third time, I met him at the appointed place, an even more hellish hole, I watched him disappear down the alley not to return at all.

The next night Rita called. "Sherrick's in the hospital, he's been shot."

On first sight, Raynoma had thought it had been a mistake. His lips were swollen twice their normal size. Black and blue bruising all over his face. Five scars gouged into his forehead. Stitches in his eyelids and cheeks. The once proud and handsome face had been obliterated.

Rita finally took me out in the hall. In between sobs, she said she loved him and they were supposed to get married and Lionel Richie was going to sing at the wedding.

Sherrick would stay clean for a year and in August of 1987, he released a smash single titled, "Just Call." The record took off like wildfire, he became an overnight sensation. One publication voted the record "single of the year." It became the number one most requested R&B record in the country.

Sherrick went on tour but soon disappeared. The old pattern returned.

When Sherrick reappeared, he was given an advance to start work on his second album. The tracks would remain unfinished. Before the vocals had been completed, Sherrick disappeared with $20,000 dollars, the majority of the advance money.

Raynoma stopped working with him as well as music executives.

Sherrick died in Los Angeles, California in January 1999, at the age of 41. He is survived by a wife and three children.

Click the link below to view Sherrick singing his hit song, "Just Call."

"Just Call"

Octavia St. Laurent (May 1, 1970 - May 17, 2009) was a transgendered woman and performer featured in the 1990 documentary "Paris Is Burning."

In the 2003 documentary "How Do I Look," she was using the name Heavenly Angel Octavia St. Laurent Manolo Blahnik. She also openly discussed her drug use, sex work, and fight with AIDS.

Later known as Octavia St. Laurent Mizrahi, she died after a long battle with cancer on May 17, 2009.

Michael Douglas Peters (6 August 1948 - 21 August 1994) was a choreographer. He may be the greatest black choreographer in history because he choreographed the greatest music video-Thriller. He also choreographed "Beat It," as well as the originial Broadway production of "Dreamgirls," yet he is all but forgotten. In his prime, you had to pay Peters' six figures to choreograph a video.

Michael Peters was born in Brooklyn to an African-American father and Jewish mother. His first major breakthrough came when he did choreography for Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" in 1975. He went on to stage other memorable dance sequences for music videos, including Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" (in which he has a brief cameo) and Lionel Richie's "Hello" (in which he also has a brief cameo as the dance instructor of Lionel Richie's blind love interest).

However, he was most recognized for his choreography work in Michael Jackson's videos. Especially the smash hit "Thriller", directed by John Landis, and "Beat It" directed by Bob Giraldi, which is vaguely reminiscent of "West Side Story" where Peters co-starred as one of two gang leaders who prepare for a dramatic showdown/knife fight, which is averted at the last moment by Jackson. Peters is dressed all in white, and wears sunglasses during the piece.

Peters danced with Talley Beatty, Alvin Ailey, Bernice Johnson, and Fred Benjamin, and worked with Michael Bennett. Bennett and Peters shared a 1982 Tony Award for Best Choreography for their work on the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. In 1985 he directed and choreographed the Ellie Greenwich jukebox musical Leader of the Pack.

Fred Astaire gave Michael Peters a personal award as either "The Greatest Living Dancer" or "The Greatest Living Choreographer."

Peters died in Los Angeles in 1994 of an AIDS related illness at 46.


Lovelace Watkins (1938–1995) was a Las Vegas-based singer and performer who achieved fame in America as well as in Europe and Australia. In the 1970's, Watkins was the highest paid black performer on the strip, grossing $10,000 per week; all of his Las Vegas shows were usually sold out.

He received criticism when he agreed to perform in South Africa for a large amount of money during the Apartheid era. His attitude was allegedly nonchalant concerning apartheid.

Watkins was born in New Jersey when his mother was only fourteen years old and was raised by his grandmother in New Brunswick. He studied microbiology at Rutgers University and also trained as a boxer. His operatically trained and signature booming voice, reminiscent of a swinging Paul Robeson, took him to Europe where he gained fame. He became so popular in Europe that he was invited to entertain at the Royal Command Performance for the Queen of the United Kingdom.

The Times called him “the best entertainer on earth.” In South Africa he received two gold albums and was so celebrated that a public parade was held in his honor – an unprecedented reception for a black entertainer at the height of Apartheid. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1961 while promoting his album "The Big, Big Voice of Lovelace Watkins," music arranged and conducted by Ray Ellis. In addition to appearing on The Ed Sullivan show Lovelace also appeared on the Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas shows. Lovelace recorded nine albums in the United States and in Europe and gained more notoriety in Europe and Australia than in the States.

Also nicknamed "The Black Sinatra," he was one of the greatest obscure male pop singers of his time.

His stage personality was earthy and electric, and he could hold audiences spellbound in the palm of his hand. However this charisma and the power and quality of his voice never quite came over on his record releases. As a result of this, plus poor management decisions and a Hollywood screen test that never transpired Lovelace never reached his full potential in the United States; this man truly had one of the "greatest voices in the world." Lovelace Watkins at one time held the attendance record at the "Talk Of The Town" in London. Around this time, Donny Hathaway wrote or co-wrote many of his songs.

He also still holds the record for selling out the London Palladium quicker than any other entertainer in history.

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