Colonel Abrams dead: House music pioneer dies after becoming homeless

Friends launched a fundraising campaign to help the musician get access to diabetes medication and get off the streets

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Colonel Abrams, a musical pioneer who helped bring house into the mainstream, has died at the age of 67.

The American singer, who is best known for his signature 1985 hit "Trapped", had recently been living homeless in New York.

Last year, friends launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to help Abrams gain access to diabetes medication and get him off the streets.

His friend DJ Tony Tune Herbert announced the news of Abrams’ death on Facebook on Friday. He said Abrams was now “at peace” and was “no longer suffering”.

“Just got word that Colonel Abrams has passed away on Thanksgiving,” Herbert said. 

With the help of house music veteran Marshall Jefferson, Herbert launched a crowdfunding campaign to help Abrams, who fell upon difficult times in his last years. “The Colonel is very ill with no permanent place of his own to live at this time and limited financial resources,” they said at the time.

Jefferson asked supporters to donate to Abrams’ cause instead of his next album in December of last year. “What I'm asking here is that all donations stop from my Kickstarter campaign and are put towards Colonel Abrams. He’s homeless now and in horrible health and is really in an emergency,” he said in a video.

“This should as serve as a reminder to a lot of us in the house music business that we’re not rich, we don’t have pension plans and the bottom could drop out at any second ... He is in dire straits now. A lot of us have seen how bad his health is first hand”.

It is not known where Abrams was living when he died.

Colonel Abrams (Rex)

Colonel Abrams, his real name, was born in Motown’s hometown of Detroit in 1949 but raised in Manhattan where he began playing guitar at an early age.

On both sides of the atlantic, "Trapped" remains the song the retired house musician is best known for. The club hit reached number three in the UK and still gets a fair amount of airplay on dance radio stations in both America and the UK.

Abrams continued to feature on dance and R&B charts in the US into the mid-1990s and performed across the world into the 21st century.

A GoFundMe page to raise money for his funeral was launched by Carla Abrams, who says she is his daughter-in-law, in the wake of his death. She said the funeral would be held next week.

“So, as some of you may have heard or you may not have heard that Colonel Abrams passed away on Thursday, November 24, 2016, which would have been on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, the rumour is true. The family is  in emotional pain, but they're staying strong for one another,” she wrote on the page.

Fellow musicians, such as Questlove, Joey Negro and Dave Pearce, have paid tribute to Abrams.