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posted: 12/15/2012 4:32 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Indian musician Ravi Shankar laughs as he speaks during a concert in Bangalore, India.

      Indian musician Ravi Shankar laughs as he speaks during a concert in Bangalore, India.
    Associated Press/Feb. 7, 2012

 
From Daily Herald news wire reports

The kids at first didn't seem to know how to respond as Ravi Shankar began his four-hour set on the final afternoon of the Monterey Pop Festival, in the fabled summer of 1967.

As captured in D.A. Pennebaker's documentary, some nodded along and smiled; Jimi Hendrix listened carefully. Others dozed, or chatted. A few hippies danced wildly, as if they couldn't tell -- or didn't care about -- the difference between Shankar's raga and a Jefferson Airplane jam.

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But as the performance accelerated from isolated strains to a pace that could exhaust the speediest rock star, eyes opened, minds expanded and Shankar and his fellow musicians left to a long standing ovation.

Shankar died Tuesday at age 92.

Labeled "the godfather of world music" by Beatle George Harrison, Shankar helped millions of Westerners -- classical, jazz and rock lovers -- discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music. From Harrison to John Coltrane, from Yehudi Menuhin to Andre Previn, he bridged, sometimes unsteadily, the musical gap between East and West, between what Shankar noted as the classical East's emphasis on melody and rhythm and the classical West's foundation of "harmony, counterpoint, chords, modulation and other basics."

"Indian music was the original 'world music' -- appealing to a generation of educated, middle-class Western listeners," said producer Joe Boyd, who has worked with everyone from Pink Floyd to Nazakat & Salamat Ali. "Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan were the first musicians to reach that audience in a profound way that transcended cultural boundaries."

"My Dad's music touched millions of people," his daughter, musician Norah Jones, said in a statement. "He will be greatly missed by me and music lovers everywhere."

Jenni Rivera launched her career hawking cassette recordings of her songs at flea markets, but a powerful voice, soulful singing style and frank discussion of personal troubles powered her to the heights of a male-dominated industry, transforming her into the one of the biggest stars of the genre known as grupero.

Her life was cut short at its peak last Sunday by an airplane crash in northern Mexico that also killed six friends and co-workers.

The 43-year-old mother of five and grandmother of two became a symbol of resilience for millions of fans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Her fame grew as she branched out into acting, appearing in independent film, reality TV and the televised singing competition "La Voz Mexico."

Rivera's parents migrated from Mexico to California and founded the label that also propelled two of her five brothers, Lupillo and Juan Rivera, to careers as well-known singers of grupero music.

She was also nominated for Latin Grammys in 2008 and 2011.

Friends, family, teammates and members of the community filled a church Saturday to say goodbye to former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown Jr.

His casket was Cowboys grey with the team's star logo on the inside. His No. 53 Cowboys framed jersey and pictures from his life bracketed the casket, along with a signed helmet from the Indianapolis Colts.

Brown, who was signed to the Dallas practice squad in October after being cut from Indianapolis, died when the car he was riding in flipped after hitting a curb. The driver, Josh Brent a teammate with the Cowboys and at the University of Illinois, has been charged with intoxication manslaughter.

More than a dozen of his teammates from Illinois and high school attended the service. The Cowboys, who held a service on Tuesday in Dallas, will wear a "53" decal for the remainder of the season to honor Brown.

Mary Lee Leahy, the Springfield attorney who triggered a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Illinois political patronage more than two decades ago, has died. She was 72.

Leahy took the case Rutan v. Illinois Republican Party to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990. The court's 5-4 ruling dealt a blow to Illinois' tradition of political patronage. The court ruled governments generally can't make hiring decisions based on politics.

Nashville drummer Willie Ackerman, who played with artists such as Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Louis Armstrong, has died. He was 73.

France loved him for his indefatigable, pioneering spirit -- the first man to climb an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak despite losing all his fingers and toes to frostbite, a man who later went on to scale the heights of French politics.

Six decades after his 1950 Annapurna climb made Maurice Herzog a household name, the famed French mountaineer has died at age 93.

Norman Joseph Woodland, the co-inventor of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores and has boosted productivity in nearly every sector of commerce worldwide, has died. He was 91.

Joe L. Allbritton, who became one of Washington's most influential men through a media conglomerate of newspapers and television stations and a financial empire that once included Riggs Bank, has died. He was 87.

His media holdings included eight television stations in seven markets, including WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington whose call letters bear his initials. In an era of corporate media ownership, WJLA stood out as a family-owned station. Ryan said it is the largest privately owned ABC affiliate in the country. Its sister station, NewsChannel 8, was the first of its kind -- a local all-news cable channel.

Swiss-born soprano Lisa Della Casa, a member of the Vienna State Opera whose performances of Mozart and Richard Strauss won her wide acclaim as one of the finest sopranos of her generation, has died at the age of 93.

Colleen Walker, the former LPGA Tour golfer who won nine times during her 23-year career, has died after her second battle with cancer. She was 56.

Former Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, a progressive leader in the U.S. Roman Catholic church and the longest-serving head of the Richmond, Va., diocese, has died at 84.

Mary Ann Darling Fischer, who gave birth to the U.S.'s first known surviving quintuplets in 1963 in an event that brought intense media interest in her family life, has died. She was 79.

World-renowned Russian opera diva Galina Vishnevskaya, who with her husband defied the Soviet regime to give shelter to writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and suffered exile from her homeland, has died at 86.

Moscow's Opera Center, which Vishnevskaya created, said the singer celebrated internationally for her rich soprano voice died in the Russian capital. It didn't give the cause.

President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences, praising the singer's "remarkable talent, strong will, nobleness and self-dignity." And Putin's envoy for international culture ties, Mikhail Shvydkoi, called her death a "huge loss not just for the Russian, but for the world culture."

British astronomer and broadcaster Patrick Moore has died at 89.

Moore was well known for his long-running BBC television show "The Sky at Night," which was credited for popularizing astronomy with generations of Britons. He had presented the show for more than half a century.

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