Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dearly departed in Detroit

Donations helped secure a marker for Florence Ballard of
the Supremes, who is buried in Detroit Memorial Park East.
Not to be morbid, but my colleague from Detroit has shared a link to a website revealing a fascinating look at resting places for some of his hometown's dearly departed musicians.

You don't have to be from Detroit, or even Michigan, to appreciate the wealth of information provided on artists both obscure and famous, many of whom have been all-but-forgotten over the years.

Kudos to the Detroit News for "Chorus of Angels: Here lie the people who shaped Detroit's musical heritage."  You can get lost for hours rediscovering artists like Renaldo "Obie" Benson of the Four Tops or hearing obscure cuts like "Rock and Roll Grandpap" by country crooner Don Rader.  Here's the link:

Just click on a cemetery and run your mouse over the mug shots for information on those interred.  For instance, a tour of Woodlawn reveals 19 notable "residents," including Earl Van Dyke (July 18, 1930-Sept. 81, 1992), leader and keyboard player of the Funk Brothers. You can read a short short bio of Van Dyke and hear a sample of a record he played on ("My Guy" by Mary Wells).  There's also a printable PDF map of each cemetery for folks who wanted to pay their onsite respects.

If we ever get back to Detroit we'd like to visit Memorial Park East, the resting place of Florence Ballard.  The former member of the Supremes is one of rock's great tragedies, living her final years in poverty and passing tragically at the age of 32.  The soundclip with her bio is "Buttered Popcorn" which featured her "churchy alto."

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