Krishna Kumar Kunnath, 53, popularly known as KK, whose mellifluous voice gave India some of Bollywood’s biggest hit songs of the 1990s and 2000s, died Tuesday after a performance in Kolkata, India. KK had been performing in an auditorium packed with college students when, after singing his last song of the evening, cameras caught him wiping his brow as he was led offstage in a hurry.
Lester Piggott, 86, one of Britain’s greatest jockeys, who won nearly 4,500 races on his native soil but whose yearlong imprisonment for tax fraud in the 1980s detoured the latter part of his career, died May 29 near Geneva. His daughter, Maureen Haggas, confirmed the death, at a hospital, but did not give a cause. She said her father, who lived in Switzerland, had had heart problems.
Tough, taciturn, partly deaf and tall for a jockey at nearly 5-foot-8, Piggott rode thoroughbreds for more than 40 years. With 30 victories, Piggott holds the record for the most wins by a jockey in the five British Classics races — the Epsom Derby, the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks Stakes and the St. Leger Stakes — and he is the last British jockey to win his country’s Triple Crown, aboard Nijinsky in 1970.
Ronnie Hawkins, 87, who combined the gregarious stage presence of a natural showman and a commitment to turbocharged rockabilly music in a rowdy career that spanned more than a half-century, died May 29. The cause was not available.
Hawkins started performing in his native Arkansas in the late 1950s and became a legendary roadhouse entertainer based in Canada in the 1960s, his music forever rooted in the primal rock ’n’ roll rhythms of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. One of his biggest claims to fame was the musicians he attracted and mentored. His backup musicians of the early 1960s, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, went on to form the Band, which backed Bob Dylan and became one of the most admired and influential bands in rock history.
Dave Barnett, 61, general council chair of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe who successfully guided his tribe’s economic development, died May 28 at his Richmond Beach home. The cause was a heart attack.
Barnett was elected chair in June 2021. His chairmanship was a capstone of a long career serving his people, particularly as a spokesperson for his tribe and a leader in deeding the tribe’s first land into trust and developing a casino. The casino was a long-fought battle, with non-Indian card rooms opposing it for fear of competition.
Barnett was also the force behind the development of The Language Conservancy program that helpedi preserve and grow the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s native tongue; implemented vote-by-mail for tribal elections; ensured that all members were able to receive equal distribution of COVID-19 relief funds; provided universal health care coverage for all members, no matter where they live; and supported a hardship policy on enrollment that brings dispersed members back to the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.
Samella Lewis, 99, a tireless champion of African American art, who was also an accomplished painter and printmaker in her own right, with works in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York City, died May 27 at a hospital in Torrance, California, after suffering a kidney ailment, according to her son Claude.
In a life that was guided by her devotion to art and social justice, Lewis taught in Jim Crow-era Florida while working with a Tallahassee branch of the NAACP — enraging members of the Ku Klux Klan, who shot out the windows of her home, according to her gallery Louis Stern Fine Arts. “Art is not a luxury as many people think,” she said, according to the website Black Art in America. “It is a necessity. It documents history — it helps educate people and stores knowledge for generations to come.”
Lewis, a New Orleans native with a Ph.D. in fine arts, aiming to promote and preserve the work of Black artists like Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence and her mentor, Elizabeth Catlett, began building alternative institutions. Settling in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, she founded three galleries for artists of color, created the city’s Museum of African American Art, published a landmark survey of contemporary Black art and wrote one of the first textbooks on African American art history.
Andy Fletcher, 60, the unassuming, bespectacled, redheaded keyboardist who for more than 40 years added his synth sounds to Depeche Mode hits like “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Personal Jesus,” has died. The British band developed a huge fan following and sold millions of records in the 1980s and ’90s. An unidentified source close to the band said he died of natural causes May 26 at home in Britain.
George Shapiro, 91, an ebullient Hollywood talent manager who nurtured and oversaw the careers of comic personalities such as Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman and Carl Reiner, died May 26 at his home in the Beverly Hills section of Los Angeles. Shapiro was most closely associated with Seinfeld, lobbied NBC to build a series around him and was an executive producer of the hugely popular “Seinfeld” sitcom.
A schmoozer who loved to be on sets, Shapiro was a partner for more than 40 years with his childhood friend Howard West in their talent management firm Shapiro/West & Associates. As managers, they oversaw and protected their clients interests by being executive producers of various projects, including “The Last Remake of Beau Geste” (1977), starring and co-written by Marty Feldman; “Summer Rental” (1985) and “Sibling Rivalry” (1990), which Reiner directed; and two TV specials starring Kaufman.
David C. MacMichael, 95, an intelligence analyst who resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1983 to go public with evidence that the Reagan administration was preparing to launch a coup against the government in Nicaragua, a revelation that would in part lead to what is known as the Iran-Contra affair, died May 16 at his home in Front Royal, Virginia.
E. Robert Wallach, 88, a California lawyer who came to Washington in the early 1980s as an adviser to presidential counselor Edwin Meese III, only to become a central figure in the Reagan-era Wedtech bribery scandal, in which he was first convicted and later freed after defending himself in court, died May 15 at his home in Alameda, California. The cause of death was not available.
Kenny Moore, 78, a two-time Olympic marathon runner who used his deep understanding of athletes to become a preeminent track writer at Sports Illustrated for nearly 25 years, died May 4 at his home in Kailua, Hawaii.
Before his writing career began, Moore figured in footwear history: He is believed to have been the first test subject of running shoe prototypes designed in 1965 by Bill Bowerman, his coach at the University of Oregon, who had already founded Blue Ribbon Sports, which would become Nike, with Philip Knight.