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More On the Untimely Death of Topper Price

Posted: May 18, 2007

Terry O'Neil "Topper" Price, one of the most recognizable figures on Birmingham's music scene, died Wednesday at his Southside apartment.

Mr. Price, 54, a blues-rock singer and harmonica player, made his fame here over 20 years with colorful, gritty, sometimes wildly exuberant performances at nightclubs and festivals.

The cause of his death is unknown. The Jefferson County Coroner's Office is awaiting tests.

 Mr. Price's fiancee, Kelly Casey, said the musician wasn't suffering from illness. "I'm supposed to be planning a wedding, not a funeral," Casey said. "He was an incredible guy. He had one of the kindest hearts I've ever met in my life."

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Thursday. Casey said cremation was likely, followed by a memorial service. Mr. Price was born in the Plateau community near Mobile, and had no close relatives in the Birmingham area, she said.

The musician, did, however, have many friends, fans and colleagues as the result of his frequent concerts at nightspots such as the Garage, 22nd Street Jazz Cafe, Metro Bistro & Market and Ona's Music Room.

Mr. Price also was a mainstay at the City Stages festival, Birmingham Jam, Do Dah Day and events organized by the Magic City Blues Society.

He performed throughout the Southeast and occasionally sat in with high-profile acts such as Gregg Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Delbert McClinton and the Subdudes.

"Topper gave a lot of joy to people in this town," said Paul Walters, president of the blues society. "There was something magnetic about him. He was the top harmonica player in the state, with a unique and powerful style. When you're talking about blues in Birmingham, you're talking about Topper Price."

Mr. Price didn't usually discuss his past with outsiders, but during an interview several years ago with The Birmingham News, he mentioned a tough childhood that was eased by his love of music.

(Courtesy Birmingham News) May 18, 2007

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