A Sad Note: Artists We Lost in 2021

Promoter and producer Anthony "OneSelf" Stanford died at age 44 in July. Friends described him as a "true legend."
Promoter and producer Anthony "OneSelf" Stanford died at age 44 in July. Friends described him as a "true legend." Tramayne Stanford
The last two years brought losses of all kinds in the music industry, from shuttered venues to billions in revenue and tours and albums postponed. But far worse were the irreversible losses in the form of lives gone.

In 2021, in particular, the international music industry lost big-name talent including Charlie Watts, DMX, Don Everly, Biz Markie, Chick Corea, Michael Nesmith, Mary Wilson, Graeme Edge and Vicente Fernandez.

Likewise, North Texas lost many influential musicians. The entries below were mostly pulled together from obituaries we published throughout the year celebrating the lives of a few musicians who forever changed the local industry with their talents, contributions and collaborative spirits.

Anthony 'OneSelf' Stanford

Anthony "OneSelf" Stanford revealed on July 26 he had been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19, posting a photo of himself to Facebook from an ICU unit with the caption "Prayers please." The Black Son Media Group CEO died in a Dallas hospital on July 31, as was confirmed by close friend and collaborator Richard “Picnic” Escobedo. He was 44.

News of OneSelf’s death went viral throughout the music scene with recording artists such as Stone Mecca, Symbolyc One and Rakim Al-Jabbaar sharing memories and expressing their condolences on social media.

On Instagram, Grammy-winning producer Symbolyc One shared a photo compilation with OneSelf with the caption: “Heartbroken. Bubba thanks for being such a great brother and a true friend (family). Just know that you lived a purposeful life and touched so many people on this earth including mine. I will forever hold on to the great memories and bond we shared. Miss u greatly but God needed you more. Rest easy my brother. Love ya!”

“OneSelf was one of the most humble and genuine spirits in Dallas hip-hop culture,” rapper Rakim Al-Jabbaar told the Observer. “He freely shared his knowledge, resources and equipment with multiple members of the community. He also was an advocate for peace whenever any discrepancies or issues crossed his plate. I’ve never seen him not smiling, happy, enjoying life to the fullest. Peace and love to his family.”

Born Anthony Stanford in 1976, OneSelf was raised in Waco, where he discovered his passion for hip-hop as a teenager. “Met Anthony about 15 years ago,” producer Picnic remembered. “Our squad, the AEONZ, consisted of some of the best artists that hip-hop had to offer in the DFW area. Him, Symbolyc One and I had a beat crew together called the Cassette Union for years. "He taught me so much about the music industry, and we both learned from each other on many other levels and phases in life. We all grew to become good friends. I still can't believe he's gone. Dallas has taken a huge loss. An amazing artist and human being. A true legend out of Dallas by way of Waco.” Bryson "Boom" Paul

click to enlarge Droo D'Anna was remembered as a big hugger and supporter of fellow musicians. - DAVID KOVALCHUK
Droo D'Anna was remembered as a big hugger and supporter of fellow musicians.
David Kovalchuk

Droo D'Anna

In August, Dallas musician and popular open mic host Droo D’Anna contracted COVID-19. D'Anna was hospitalized for two weeks after complications from the virus worsened and died on Aug. 28 at the age of 42. The Dallas music scene lost a figure described by many as "one of the kindest," "most supportive" men.

D'Anna's last record, Magic & the Reel, which has been described as anything from modern pop to a more joyful, psychedelic soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz, encapsulated the musician's lighthearted and energetic spirit.

“He would get out of his VW Beetle and give me and everyone in the room a big hug," says Eric Delegard, a producer at Reeltime Audio who worked on all three of D'Anna's albums. "We would talk about life and current events for a bit, then he would do his thing. He was great at almost everything: guitar, bass, keyboards and especially vocals. (...) He sang background vocals like nobody's business.”

As a host of multiple open mic nights, D'Anna gave a stage for many local performers.

“I met one of the most caring and genuine souls to have blessed our presence," said blues musician Tin Man Travis. "He was the quintessential cornerstone for so many artists to facilitate their talents on a stage in front of others. An amazing artist and performer himself, he set the bar for so many to strive to reach.”

Travis said D'Anna's real virtues extended beyond his talents. 

“The real magic happened off the stage with Droo,” he said. “He was one of the most compassionate, caring, encouraging, sympathetic and supportive God-sends the world had or has to offer (...) I’ll miss those hugs… playing that Gibson. Singing, smiling, shining, and amplifying love. That’s who Droo D’Anna is, was and forever will be: love incarnate.” Jamie Vahala
click to enlarge Punk scene fixture Olan Martin died Oct. 15. He was only 19. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
Punk scene fixture Olan Martin died Oct. 15. He was only 19.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

Olan Martin

On a Saturday night in October, a hardcore show took place in The Gold Room at Golden Boy Coffee & Cocktails in Denton. A row of candles propped the door open, lighting the entryway, flickering the words “4 OLAN.” On Friday, Oct. 15, just a day before the show, Olan Martin committed suicide. He was a loyal member of the punk rock, hardcore and metal scenes since age 13, gone at 19.

When he was 17, Martin and his friends formed the hardcore band The Kinky Bastards, realizing a dream he'd shared with his close friend and bass player Zane Daniel.

“I’m very lucky to have known Olan at such a young age, so I could watch him grow up and do so many great things,” Daniel said. "Playing in The Kinky Bastards with him felt like a full circle in our life, after years of talking about doing a band together — which is actually how we became friends — we finally had a band. This kid was like my little brother, and I’m so proud of all the good he did in this world. I’m glad that the light outlives the star.”

Martin’s presence at hardcore shows was felt, both physically and emotionally, by fans, bands and photographers alike. Martin had a reputation for being the hardest mosher and highest stage-diver with the best style, and his enthusiasm for music was so contagious that everyone from the back of the stage to the back of the audience was infected by it.

Punk and hardcore bands accustomed to seeing Martin at shows throughout the years immediately felt an absence in the scene Martin loved — and in which he loved to stir the pot.

“Olan was a force to be reckoned with,” former Blot Out, current Hard Detox vocalist Zach Abrego said. “He knew how to get the crowd moving, and if the crowd wasn't moving, he would be the guy thrashing full force by himself, not a care in the world, besides causing some chaos in the pit, of course. His passion for music and fierce energy at every show is something that is extremely rare, and, well, completely unique, really. We are all going to miss him.” David Fletcher
click to enlarge Singer Chadwick Murray taking the stage at the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth. - MIKE BROOKS
Singer Chadwick Murray taking the stage at the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth.
Mike Brooks

Chadwick Murray

The Dallas music community lost one of its most powerful voices when Chadwick Murray, the lead vocalist for the soul powerhouse group Bastards of Soul, died Sept. 1 from "a rare and unexpected illness," according to a statement released by Murray's family.

Murray left behind his wife, Hannah, and their newborn son Lennox as well as "a loving family, hundreds of close friends and thousands of fans on this Earth," according to the family's statement.

Max Hartman, who performed with Murray in the rock group Mur for 18 years, said Murray's illness was not related to the coronavirus.

"When he fell ill a few weeks ago, he asked a few close friends to keep it private to protect his family," the statement said. "Chad loved to laugh and bring joy to everyone around him, so he didn't want anyone to worry or be upset."

Murray provided the booming vocal sounds for the Dallas soul band Bastards of Soul. The group debuted its first LP, Spinnin', in 2020, a release that won Best Album at the 2020 Dallas Observer Music Awards.

Hartman remembered the first time he saw Murray playing bass with another group and noticed "from the jump, he was a very dynamic performer.

"He's always carried that, and when you played with him, that was always the case," Hartman said. "You could see that he loved playing and felt it to the core and as he stepped forward to sing with Bastards of Soul, it was such a remarkable leap from playing bass and singing backup to commanding the stage like a dynamic, veteran performer." Danny Gallagher
Darren Eubank died May 30 after being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. - LIZBET PALMER
Darren Eubank died May 30 after being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.
Lizbet Palmer

Darren Eubank

About eight years ago, Darren Eubank and Chima Ijeh were busking on the corner of 7th and Bishop streets in Oak Cliff. Things grew from there into their six-piece band, D and Chi, which jammed across the country and abroad. Eubank's is a familiar face in the local music scene. If you didn’t know him from one of D and Chi’s shows, you may have known him from the open mic scene or for his pandemic concert series called Songs From the Street, where he turned his car into a venue on wheels to bring his music to listeners as they sheltered in place.

Eubank died May 30 after being admitted to Methodist Dallas Medical Center with COVID-19.

“At approximately 2:40 a.m. May 30, 2021, my sweet husband took his final breath,” his wife, Brecia, wrote on Facebook. “I don’t have words to adequately describe the depth of the pain I’m feeling in this moment. While I wish I could reach out to each of you, tell you individually, my husband was very well-loved and the calls would be never-ending.”

D and Chi had a show booked for the following Friday night, but Ijeh knew Eubank had COVID-19 and that he’d be playing alone. He got a call from Brecia saying they were in the emergency room. Over the phone, Ijeh told his bandmate to fight. “I told him I’d kill him if he died. He laughed and said ‘I know. I’m going to fight,’” Ijeh recalled. “That was the last time I spoke to him.”

Eubank met his wife in 2019. They owned RISE Performing Arts Center, which is primarily a dance studio, but the couple planned to expand into other arts. The week that Eubank died, the couple was supposed to move in with local musician Cameron Ray, Eubank's best friend.

“Darren had a lot of ups and downs, just like I did,” Ray said.

Besides working for Uber, the two tried to make all their income from music, which isn’t an easy thing to do. “Seeing him take it ... and just be like ‘Oh, something better’s going to happen’ really helped me with where I was at.”

Eubank came from a big, loving foster family with many other adopted siblings.

“That’s a lot of what he knew, just love,” Ray said. “He would just go out of his way to help a stranger. The term ‘He would give you his shirt off his back,’ as cheesy as it is, Darren really would. That was the best part about it, him being there for you no matter where you were at.” Jacob Vaughn
click to enlarge DJ GSpook (Pedro González) spun records and rhymes for K104 FM and 97.9 FM The Beat and was one of both stations' first Latino on-air talents. - GEORGE REDD SPEAKS
DJ GSpook (Pedro González) spun records and rhymes for K104 FM and 97.9 FM The Beat and was one of both stations' first Latino on-air talents.
George Redd Speaks


Radio DJs have to craft a personality for their on-air audience. Hip-hop DJ and musician Pedro González, known as GSpook, didn't need to make up a personality to reach his audience.

"He was the same person," said Dallas DJ J-Kruz, who met GSpook when they worked at K104 FM and 97.9 FM The Beat. "In radio, especially for jocks, good jocks are themselves. People come up to me and say, 'Man, you act the same way you do on the air,' and I take that as a compliment. You want to be authentic, and GSpook was authentic."

GSpook's vibrant personality and oratory talent were constantly on display even when the "On the Air" sign was off. "All you did was laugh around the guy," said comedian and friend George Redd Speaks, who knew GSpook since their days attending North Crowley High School. "He was always on. It was just his personality. (...) That's just who he was."

The memories of the Latino DJ, who called himself "The Krazy Mexican," left an impression on almost everyone who met him on a professional and personal level. His closest friends and fellow radio personalities shared some of their favorite GSpook moments in the wake of his death on March 14 at the age of 39.

GSpook got his start in the Dallas radio scene thanks to a radio contest held by K104 in 2001. Randy Watson, also known as Cat Daddy, was the nighttime DJ at K104 who judged the contest. He remembered the colorful voicemail GSpook left as his initial audition. "He was instantly attractive with his delivery," Cat Daddy says. "He had a natural gift of gab and a nice flow and cadence. He was super smooth in Spanish and English."

GSpook won the contest and an on-air spot for the following five years on K104. His natural talent and ability to spit a steady flow of vibrant words on the airwaves helped him find an audience as the first Latino personality on the Dallas hip-hop station.

"He was unique to K104 and the fact that we brought him up and knew he was a special talent because he was speaking Spanish and English, something K104 never had," Cat Daddy said. "To showcase that and have it be embraced, it's a major move for him, the station and the city as a whole."

He also helped showcase and motivate new talent from the local, Latino music community including rapper High Note (Carlos Garcia). High Note says he remembers the day GSpook took him under his wing and helped him get his start on the air. The duo went on to record their own songs together, such as the Dallas Cowboys rap fight track "Cowboys Life" and produced skits for shows on YouTube and the local Univision affiliate.

"GSpook saw an opportunity to grab another fellow, young Hispanic in an industry that wasn't really meant for us and coached me all the way up," High Note said. "I've never met anybody more selfless than he. He could be working on a song with somebody for a day, two days straight and hear someone freestyle and would be like, 'Yo, he needs to be on this song.' We'd remake the composition of the song and then we'd have two people, three people, six people on the song."

Sometime after he left his show at K104 and picked up a new time slot on The Beat, the first sign of medical problems started. Several of GSpook's friends say he admitted himself to the hospital in 2017 due to chest pains that led to a serious heart attack. He fell out of consciousness and fell into a coma. Redd said doctors told Spook's family that "he'd be a vegetable for the rest of his life" and advised them to take him off life support on Christmas Eve.

Somehow, GSpook awoke from his coma two months later and made a recovery. Soon after, GSpook went back to work this for The Beat. He continued to work on the radio and his various music and comedy projects, and even talked to Redd about making a move to stand-up until he was checked into the hospital a second time for sudden numbness throughout his body.

Redd said doctors diagnosed GSpook with a rare staph infection called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Doctors put him in a second, medically induced coma to see if his body could fight off the bacterial infection, but he never woke up from it. Once again, doctors advised his family to let him go.

GSpook died on March 14. Danny Gallagher
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David Fletcher writes about music, arts and culture for the Dallas Observer. You can usually find him at a show in Deep Ellum whether he's writing about it or not. A punk scholar and local music enthusiast, David focuses his attention on the artists screaming in the margins of Dallas' music scene.
Contact: David Fletcher
Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.
Bryson "Boom" Paul has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2019. A Dallas resident by way of California, he has written for LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Hip Hop DX and ThisisRNB. He is a CSUB graduate and has interviewed Yella Beezy, Sean Paul, Master P and others.
Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn