Categotry Archives: Musicians


Brandenn E. Bremmer


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.


Chris LeDoux


Categories: Musicians, Sports

cledoux.jpgChris LeDoux, a world champion bareback rider and country music star, died on March 9 from complications of liver cancer. He was 56.

The son of an Air Force major, LeDoux lived in France, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania before moving to Cheyenne, Wyo. He developed an interest in rodeo in his teens and was soon roping calves and riding bulls, saddle broncs and bareback broncs.
In high school, LeDoux twice won the state title for bareback riding. He received a rodeo scholarship after graduation and won the national title in his third year of competition. In 1976, LeDoux was named the world bareback champion by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

LeDoux’s other passion was music. He taught himself to play the guitar and harmonica, and used his talents to pay his way from one rodeo to another. The singer/songwriter once described his music as a “combination of western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock ‘n’ roll.” Each song he performed offered an autobiographical look at life on the rodeo circuit, the experiences of modern cowboys and the love he felt for his family.

LeDoux independently released 22 albums — mostly cassettes he sold at concerts and rodeos from the back of his pick-up truck. But his music found a wider audience in 1989 when Garth Brooks mentioned his name in the hit song, “Much Too Young (To Be This Damn Old).”

LeDoux signed a recording contract with Capitol Records Nashville in 1990. Two years later, he and Brooks joined forces on the song “Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy,” which became a top 10 hit and was nominated for a Grammy Award. LeDoux sold more than 6 million albums during his singing career. He was best known for the songs “Hooked on an 8 Second Ride,” “Copenhagen,” “This Cowboy’s Hat,” “Even Cowboys Like a Little Rock and Roll,” “Riding for a Fall” and “Honky Tonk World.”

LeDoux was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2003. His life was chronicled in the biography, “Gold Buckle Dreams – The Rodeo Life of Chris LeDoux,” by David G. Brown. A week after his death, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal declared July 30, 2005 as “Chris LeDoux Day.”

Listen to an Interview With “Saturday Night Country”

Chris LeDoux Download MP3s by LeDoux


Rod Roach

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Categories: Musicians

Rodney William Roach, a champion banjo player known as “the gentle giant,” died on Feb. 23 of brain cancer. He was 63.
Roach was just a boy when he took up the ukulele and the guitar. He continued to experiment with string instruments, teaching himself to play the mandolin, fiddle and dobro. After hearing bluegrass legends Flatt and Scruggs play the five-string banjo, however, Roach made the instrument his own.
The 6-foot-7 musician attended Middlebury College in Vermont and played with numerous bluegrass bands, including the Otter Creek Ramblers, Apple Country, Tasty Licks, Stoney Lonesome and Eel River Bog Trotters. He was named the New England 5-String Banjo Champion in 1971 and 1972.
Roach made a living as a senior insurance claims adjuster for Encompass Insurance in Quincy, Mass., but his passion for music never waned. In recent years, he taught banjo workshops and performed with The Back Eddy Bluegrass Band. A prolific songwriter, Roach was best known for writing a song to commemorate Massachusetts’ observance of the U.S. bicentennial in 1976.


Jeanette Schmid

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Categories: Musicians

Jeanette Schmid shall never purse her lips again.
Austria’s last professional whistler, Schmid was better known by her stage name: Baroness Lips von Lipstrill. Born a man in Czechoslovakia, Schmid underwent a sex change in Egypt in 1964.
She went into show business after landing a job dancing for the shah of Iran. When her costume was deemed too skimpy, Schmid changed into a more conservative outfit and entertained the monarch by whistling a polka by Johann Strauss Jr.
Schmid whistled professionally for the next four decades and shared the stage with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf. In recent years, she performed on television and worked the circus and cruise line circuits, entertaining audiences by hitting the high C note.
Schmid died of the flu at the age of 80. The exact day of her death was not released.


Edward Patten


Categories: Musicians

Edward Roy Patten, a member of the Grammy Award-winning R&B group Gladys Knight & The Pips, died on Feb. 25 from complications of a stroke. He was 65.
The Atlanta native had music in his soul. He grew up singing in his church and accompanying local doo-wop groups. In 1959, Patten’s cousin, Gladys Knight, invited him to join her singing group. Together with her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight, and cousin William Guest, the extended family formed the R&B quartet known as The Pips. Their 1961 debut, “Every Beat of My Heart,” hit #1 on the R&B chart and #6 on the pop chart. The following year, however, a small record company encouraged the group to give Gladys’ name more prominence.
Gladys Knight & The Pips moved to Detroit in 1966 and became a staple of the Motown line-up. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the group scored Top 40 hits with “Friendship Train,” “It Should Have Been Me,” “The End of Our Road,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “Neither One of Us” and the original version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Patten sang bass and tenor for the group and choreographed many of its stylish dance routines.
In 1973, Gladys Knight & The Pips switched to Buddah Records and attained superstardom on pop and R&B radio stations with “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” The group continued performing into the 1980s and won four Grammy Awards before disbanding. Gladys Knight & The Pips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
In recent years, Patten co-founded Crew Records. He worked as a back-up vocalist to the label’s recording artists until 1995 when a series of strokes robbed him of his ability to sing.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
The Best of Gladys Knight & the Pips Download MP3s From Gladys Knight & The Pips

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