Piotr Orlov

Let's get the obvious out of the way: If Grateful Dead wordsmith Robert Hunter had never written another lyric after "Truckin'," the rock radio staple off 1970's American Beauty immortalized by the refrain, "what a long strange trip it's been," chances are good that the headline writers of America would still have voted him into their hall of fame. A powerful, all-purpose line that hit the sweet spot of subversive clich├ęs, it made speakers appear smarter than they are.

Few careers in contemporary music had the arc and the diversity that South Africa-born trumpeter/singer/composer Hugh Masekela did, before he succumbed to prostate cancer on Tuesday at the age of 79.