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Five South Florida Musicians Who Left Us Too Soon

We've all got to go sometime, and the South Florida music community has suffered some dead homies over the years. Usually, what we get are talented people just moving away, leaving the area for greener pastures (L.A. or New York). But sometimes they shuffle off to that great gig in the sky. 

The local music community still reels from the loss of Jimmy Pagano this past April. Here are just a few more tragic losses -- some recent, some a while back -- that the area is still feeling. Look no further to the Jaco Pastorius mural and park on Dixie Highway in Oakland Park to get a feel for his impact.

5. Lisa Hodapp

Known as a punk-rocking mom and attorney, Hodapp commanded a string of loud and crazy bands starting in the early '80s, like the Gargirls, Monistat 7, and Morbid Opera. Fraulein was her final project, and she was 49 when cancer took her life in April 2010, so who knows how long she'd have been rocking out?

4. Johnny Salton

Of all the crazy guitarists that have called South Florida home, Johnny Salton may well have been number one. His frenzied freakouts were part paisley underground and part dirt-stained psychedelia, and his projects (the Eggs with Charlie Pickett, Psycho Daisies) remain locally legendary. Churchill's will never forget him. The notoriously hard-living Salton didn't do himself in, though. Liver cancer took him in October 2010. 


3. Gidget Gein/Brad Stewart 

As cofounder of Marilyn Manson, Gidget was one of the biggest music icons to come from Hollywood, Florida. Manson (Brian Warner) may have been the leader, but bangable Brad was often an early focal point. But drugs derailed his career. 

He told this paper about ODing in the bathroom of a Thai restaurant in Wilton Manors back in 1992, when the band was starting. That same year, recovering from another overdose, he was fired from the band. He straightened out somewhat, became a bag boy (collecting dead bodies and bringing them to the morgue), then began a successful art career. But he moved to California a few years ago, got back into junk, and sadly ended up in a morgue himself in October 2008. 


2. Fred Neil

Though raised in St. Petersburg, Neil made his name on the Coconut Grove coffeehouse circuit back in the '70s. David Crosby absolutely worshiped him. He's best-known for writing "Everybody's Talkin," which became a hit for Harry Nilsson in the film Midnight Cowboy

Neil never had a hit and never seemed to even want one. He spent his last three decades devoting most of his energy to dolphin research and protection. In fact, his song "Dolphins" has been covered by Tim Buckley, The The, and Dead Can Dance. He passed away in July 2001. 


1. Jaco Pastorius 

Calling himself the world's greatest bass player, Pastorius came up through the South Florida jazz scene and willed himself into becoming exactly that. His fluent, fretless style led fusion giants Weather Report to some of its highest heights, and he played with Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock. 

Jaco grew up in Oakland Park and died after a drunken altercation with a bouncer outside a Wilton Manors nightclub on September 21, 1987. He was 35 years old. His twin sons, a bassist and drummer, continue to create their own jazzy grooves.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton