The 2016 year is soon coming to a close and for all music fans, this has been a very rough year with many musical greats passing on. We’ve compiled a partial list of huge musical forces that we have unfortunately lost this year due to their passing. Many of these ‘musicians’ have impacted the music field and have inspired much of the music you hear today. There’s some horrendous losses in this partial list and hope thoughts and prayers are always with their families and loved ones. You may want to grab a tissue before reading through the list.
2015 was not much better … the main musical master than stands out to me as a tremendous loss was when B.B. King passed on May 14, 2015. I truly hope they are all together and jamming the most awesome music up in heaven. May their souls Rest In Peace and their music, legacy and influence live on forever.
MUSICIANS WE LOST IN 2016
Prince – Dead at 57
Fans were utterly shocked when the artist known as Prince was reported to have died on April 21, 2016 at the age of 57. His body was found at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota in the early morning. The singer, born Prince Rogers Nelson, had played a show just 5 days earlier.
David Bowie – Dead at 69
The “Life on Mars” singer left our earthly realm on January 10, 2016. David Bowie died surrounded by his family after an 18-month battle with cancer. His final album, Blackstar, was released only two days earlier, on his birthday.
Glenn Frey – Dead at 67
The Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey died on January 18, 2016, of complications from ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. Frey co-wrote many of The Eagles’ greatest hits, including “Hotel California” and “Take It Easy,” which have had a permanent impact on the music world.
Merle Haggard – Dead at 79
Country music legend Merle Haggard died on his birthday of complications from pneumonia. The “Workin’ Man Blues” singer had 38 number one Country Billboard hits. His early life, before he became famous, was messy and difficult, and he served three years in San Quentin for robbery.
Joey Feek – Dead at 40
Country music singer Joey Feek died tragically young, at the age of 40, from cervical cancer. Feek’s illness was movingly documented by her husband Rory Feek. As country duo Joey + Rory, the Feeks won a Grammy nod for their song, “If I Needed You.”
Natalie Cole – Dead at 65
Natalie Cole, daughter of legendary singer Nat King Cole, was a huge talent in on the early R&B scene. Natalie Cole, daughter of legendary singer Nat King Cole, was a huge talent in on the early R&B scene.
Leonard Cohen – Dead at 82
Legendary singer and poet Leonard Cohen died at his home in Los Angeles on November 7. He will be best remembered for hugely powerful songs like “Hallelujah,” “Everybody Knows,” and “Suzanne.”
Maurice White – Dead at 74
Maurice White, the founder of funk-soul group Earth, Wind and Fire, died in his sleep after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for over a decade. He was multi-talented and performed as the singer and drummer for the band, and well as being the producer and main songwriter. The band sold over 90 million albums and won seven Grammys.
Paul Kantner – Dead at 74
Paul Kantner had a profound influence on music as co-founder of the 1960s psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. He died from septic shock and multiple organ failure, after a string of health problems that began with a heart attack in March 2015.
Lemmy Kilmister – Dead at 70
Ian Fraser Kilmister, known as Lemmy, almost made it to 2016. He died on December 28, 2015. Lemmy was the founder and iconically-mustachioed frontman of rock band Motorhead. The band played a founding role in heavy metal. Lemmy died just two days after being diagnosed with a very aggressive brain cancer.
Rene Angelil – Dead at 73
Celine Dion’s husband and manager Rene Angelil died after a struggle with cancer. He worked with Celine throughout her incredible rise to fame, during which they married and had three children together.
David Gest – Dead at 62
David Gest was found dead in his room at the Four Seasons Hotel in London. Police stated that there were no suspicious circumstances. Gest was a successful music producer and friend of the Jackson Five members, with whom he grew up. His unsuccessful 18-month marriage to Liza Minnelli made him internationally famous, and he then became a staple of British reality TV.
Frank Sinatra, Jr. – Dead at 72
Frank Sinatra’s son, Frank Sinatra, Jr., was a musical talent in his own right. He sang with Duke Ellington and had a long running casino show. He also had numerous small TV acting roles over the decades. Most recently, he appeared as himself on The Sopranos and Family Guy. He passed away on March 16, 2016.
Keith Emerson – Dead at 71
Keyboard artist Keith Emerson co-founded the popular 1970s prog rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He died at his home on March 10, 2016.
Dale Griffin – Dead at 67
Mott the Hoople drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin (pictured left) died in his sleep after struggling with Alzheimers. Mott the Hoople were famous in the early 1970s, and their best-known album, All the Young Dudes, was produced by David Bowie.
Pete Huttlinger – Dead at 54
Pete Huttlinger was best known as the lead guitarist for legendary singer-songwriter John Denver. Huttlinger died in the hospital four days after suffering a stroke.
Billy Paul – Dead at 81
R&B singer Billy Paul will be best remembered for his 1972 number 1 hit single “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which won him a Grammy. He died at his home in New Jersey from pancreatic cancer.
George Martin – Dead at 90
The Beatles’ producer George Martin died at his home in early 2016. The legendary producer signed the band, and worked so closely with them that he became known as the “fifth Beatle.”
Shawty Lo – Dead at 40
Rapper Shawty Lo died tragically young in a car crash when his vehicle went over a guard rail and caught fire. Thousands of fans paid tribute to him by gathering outside his Atlanta recording studio.
James Woolley (of Nine Inch Nails) – Dead at 49
Keyboard and synth player James Woolley was a member of NIN during their early ’90s glory days. He contributed to their best-selling album The Downward Spiral. Woolley died tragically young from head and neck injuries after he fell off a ladder while reaching for recording equipment in his studio.
Christina Grimmie – Dead at 22
Christina Grimmie became nationally famous for starring on Season 6 of NBC’s The Voice. She was shot dead while signing autographs. Her brother tackled the gunman but was too late to save his sister.
Clarence Reid (also known as Blowfly) – Dead at 76
Clarence Reid was an R ‘n’ B musician who wrote songs for Betty White and KC & the Sunshine Band, among others. He became famous late in life with his alternate rapping persona, Blowfly, who wore a purple sequinned superhero costume and rapped x-rated material that parodied the explicit lyrics of other hip-hop and pop songs. He died on January 17, 2016.
Lee Andrews – Dead at 79
Lee Andrews was lead singer of the doo-wop group Lee Andrews and the Hearts, but perhaps more famous as father of The Roots’ Questlove. He died on March 16. Questlove called his father ‘the greatest teacher in my life’.
Denise Matthews – Dead at 57
Singer and actress Denise Matthews, who performed as Vanity, died in early 2016 after years of kidney disease. She worked with Prince in the 1980s and led the group Vanity 6 (with whom she’s pictured, center). In the 1990s she renounced her “Vanity” stage name and became an evangelical minister.
Ross Hannaford – Dead at 65
Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford died in March 2016, just a few months after he performed at a sold-out benefit concert to raise money for his battle with cancer. Hannaford founded the legendary Australian rock group Daddy Cool with Ross Wilson all the way back in 1970.
Matt Roberts – Dead at 38
Matt Roberts was guitarist with the rock bank 3 Doors Down until 2012. He died from a likely prescription drug overdose.
Nick Menza – Dead at 52
Drummer Nick Menza played for the influential thrash metal band Megadeth. He died of heart failure while performing with his band OHM in Los Angeles.
Jean Shepard – Dead at 82
Jean Shepard was the first woman country artist to sell more than a million records with her 1953 single “A Dear John Letter,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100. In the following decades, Shepard recorded many more best-selling country albums. She died from Parkinson’s.
Written by William David