Categotry Archives: Musicians

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Verne Meisner

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Categories: Musicians

LaVerne D. Meisner, a virtuoso accordionist and bandleader who was known as the “Polka King of Wisconsin,” died on June 10 from complications of melanoma. He was 66.
The Milwaukee native picked up the accordion when he was eight years old and formed his first band, Verne Meisner and the Polka Boys, when he was 11. The group had been performing at local taverns for two years when Meisner got his big break. It was 1953, and the 13-year-old musician was offered the chance to play with Frankie Yankovic, “America’s Polka King.” Yankovic was so impressed that he invited the teen to tour with his band.
Other than a single term of enlistment with the National Guard, Meisner spent the next five decades performing for polka lovers in the United States, Canada and in Europe. Known for playing in the Cleveland-style, he was a regular attraction at the Wisconsin State Fair and Dairy Expo.
Meisner recorded 20 albums and composed more than 60 songs, including the hits “Memories of Vienna” and “El Rio Drive.” He appeared on the ABC show, “In Search of America,” hosted by Peter Jennings, and was the first polka musician to win the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Award. Meisner also was inducted into five polka halls of fame.
“My dad had a knack for writing a song that people would remember. He was a genius with melody,” said Meisner’s son Steve, who continues the family’s accordion-playing legacy.
Following Meisner’s memorial service on June 21, hundreds of polka fans and musicians from across the Midwest gathered at the Whitewater American Legion building in Wisconsin to honor and remember their king.

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Karl Mueller

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Categories: Musicians

kmueller.jpgKarl H. Mueller, the bass guitarist of the grunge rock band Soul Asylum, died on June 17 after a yearlong battle with esophageal cancer. He was 41.
The Minneapolis native was a teenager when he visited a friend in London and became utterly fascinated by punk rock. When Mueller returned home, he hooked his classmates onto the music too. In 1981, Mueller joined forces with drummer Dave Pirner and guitarist Dan Murphy to form the punk band Loud Fast Rules. Over the next three years, Pirner switched to rhythm guitar and vocals, the trio hired the first of several drummers and the band’s name changed to Soul Asylum.
Soul Asylum recorded four albums and received airplay on college radio stations in the mid- to late-1980s, but was mostly known as the opening act for Twin Cities’ denizens the Replacements and H

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Paul Hester

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Categories: Musicians

phester.jpgPaul Newell Hester, the former drummer of the pop/rock band Crowded House, committed suicide on March 26. He was 46.

The Melbourne native was born to Mulga Mike Hester, a legendary bushman, and Ann Hester, a jazz drummer who taught him how to play percussion instruments at an early age. Hester’s passion for music overrode any interest in education, and he dropped out of school to pursue a career in show business.

Hester joined the New Zealand New Wave group Split Enz in 1983. Although the band dissolved less than a year later, Hester and the group’s singer/songwriter Neil Finn soon hooked up with bass player Nick Seymour and guitarist/keyboardist Craig Hooper to form the Mullanes. When Hooper left the band in 1985, the trio moved to Los Angeles, signed a record contract with Capitol Records and changed the band’s name to Crowded House.

One of Australia’s most successful bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Crowded House found international fame with the hits “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong.” Hester quit the band in 1994, citing declining motivation and the pressures of a grueling tour schedule. The band released four studio albums before breaking up in 1996.

In recent years, Hester played with several bands, including Rose Amongst Thorns, the Chris Bailey Combo, Ultrasound, Largest Living Things and Tarmac Adam. He hosted The Music Max Sessions, a series of intimate concerts featuring top-shelf music acts, for Australia’s cable music channel Music Max, and enjoyed a recurring role as Chef Paul on the children’s TV show, “The Wiggles.” Two weeks ago, he appeared on the SBS music quiz show, “RockWiz.”

Hester took his two dogs for a walk on Friday and hanged himself from a tree in Elsternwick Park near his home in Melbourne. His body was found the next day. Hester is survived by his two daughters, aged eight and 10.

Don't Dream It's Over Download MP3s by Crowded House

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Danny Joe Brown

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Categories: Musicians

Danny Joe Brown, the original lead singer of the Southern rock band Molly Hatchet, died on March 10 of renal failure and pneumonia. He was 53.
The Jacksonville, Fla., native graduated from high school, spent two years in the U.S. Coast Guard then made a living as an insurance salesman. His passion, however, was music and in 1974, he joined Molly Hatchet, a hard-rockin’ six-piece band that was named after a 17th century prostitute who allegedly beheaded and mutilated her clients.
Brown served as the frontman and lone vocalist for the group, and lent his deep, gravelly voice to the songs “Dreams I’ll Never See” and “Gator Country.” Molly Hatchet’s self-titled debut went platinum in 1978. A year later, the band released its sophomore effort, “Flirtin’ With Disaster,” which sold over 2 million copies.
Citing diabetes and exhaustion from constant touring and partying, Brown left the band in 1980. He created a short-lived side project — The Danny Joe Brown Band — before rejoining Molly Hatchet in 1982 to record the albums “No Guts…No Glory” and “The Deed Is Done.”
Molly Hatchet disbanded several times in the 1980s, but reunited for a reunion tour in 1996. When Brown’s diabetes worsened, vocalist Phil McCormack replaced him. His musical career ended in 1998 after he suffered a debilitating stroke.
Molly Hatchet Download MP3s by Molly Hatchet

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Brandenn E. Bremmer

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Categories: Extraordinary People, Musicians

Brandenn E. Bremmer, a 14-year-old musical prodigy from Nebraska, sustained a gunshot wound to the head on March 15. The boy died the following day at Children’s Hospital in Denver. Authorities suspect he committed suicide.
Bremmer taught himself to read when he was 18 months old. He began playing the piano at 3 and was home-schooled from kindergarten on. At 10, Bremmer became the youngest person to graduate through the Independent Study High School conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Described by friends and family as a bright young man who smiled often, Bremmer dressed up like Harry Potter — one of his favorite literary characters — for his graduation picture.
Bremmer was only 11 when he began studying piano improvisation at Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Colo. Last year, he released his debut album, “Elements,” and gave concerts in Colorado and Nebraska. The day his body was found, Bremmer had just completed the artwork for the cover of his second CD, which features meditative, New Age piano music.
Like most kids, he loved watching cartoons, playing video games, riding his bike and catching fish. In January, Bremmer enrolled in a biology class at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, Neb. He planned to graduate from the University of Nebraska’s medical school by the time he was 21 and become an anesthesiologist.
His mother, mystery writer Patricia Bremmer, said he showed no signs of depression and didn’t leave a suicide note. Bremmer’s kidneys were donated to two people. His liver went to a 22-month-old and his heart to an 11-year-old boy.

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