R.I.P.: Nikki Sudden, Proof, Gene Pitney and Buck Owens

R.I.P.: Nikki Sudden, Proof, Gene Pitney and Buck Owens
Nikki Sudden, an underground music legend as well as the former front-man of cult indie heroes the Swell Maps died from an enlarged heart on March 26, one night after playing a show at NYC’s Knitting Factory. Born Nicholas Godfrey, he rose to fame in the late ’70s with his brother Epic Soundtracks in the influential lo-fi post-punk act Swell Maps. He went on to release a number of solo albums for Creation and Secretly Canadian Records as well as record with his band the Jacobites. Sudden had just finished work on his 24th album, The Truth Doesn’t Matter. He was 49.

Accomplished MC and Eminem prodigy Proof (DeShaun Holton) was shot in the head and killed outside of the CCC club on Eight Mile Road in Detroit on April 11. Best known as a member of D12 and the inspiration for Mekhi Phifer’s role in Eight Mile, he began his career in Detroit’s Hip Hop Shop, organising freestyle tournaments. Proof released the well-received Searching for Jerry Garcia, his first and only solo album last year. He was 30.

Legendary singer-songwriter Gene Pitney passed away from natural causes in a Cardiff hotel room following a performance the night before in Wales. Establishing his career in the early ’60s, Pitney had a string of hits throughout his time, most notably "Only Love Can Break A Heart” and "Every Breath I Take,” for which he worked with Burt Bacharach and Phil Spector respectively. He was 65.

Country superstar Buck Owens died of a heart ailment on March 25. Known for influencing country music’s sound outside of Nashville, Owens released more than 20 number one records in the ’60s and ’70s, and was a key player in bringing country to television with the long-running Hee Haw. He was 75.