To many people, 2016 seemed to be a year that was relentless in seeing the deaths of so many icons of popular music and the arts. To be fair, it wasn’t the fault of the year, but simply that pop culture has been booming since the spread of the radio, then TV and, more recently, the Internet and social media; so that many of the icons of that boom have reached ages where there can be a fair expectation of old age or even premature deaths, especially given the lifestyles of some in those years.
Still, the passing of such icons as Bowie; Prince; the tragic deaths of indie rock band Viola Beach, some still in their teens; as well as some hugely influential promoters of the pop music World; have left us heading into 2017 with fingers crossed that it will be a kinder year.
The list below is long, and the roll call of those departed is noted under the track titles of this all-too-long sound track.
RIP so many talents, jam on…
NOTE – Songs in the set by Madonna, Manu Dibango and Ultravox represent other persons, as noted in the track list and below.
Keith Emerson 71 – pioneering innovative keyboardist with progressive rock giants ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer’.
Marni Nixon 86 – the ‘greatest ghost singer’ frequently dubbed as the singing voice for the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn in many of the most famous musicals.
Leandro Gato Barbieri 83 – Argentine jazz musician and songwriter. Best known to many for the soundtrack to ‘Last Tango In Paris’.
Papa Wemba 66 – pioneer in blending African music with jazz and rock styles.
Henry McCullough 72 – musician and guitarist with ‘Paul McCartney’s Wings’.
Dale Griffin 67 – drummer for glam rock band ‘Mott The Hoople’.
Rick Parfitt 68 – The Wild Old Man Of Rock & Roll and ‘the Quo’ in ‘Status Quo’.
Jimmy Bain 68 – bass guitarist of rock bands ‘Rainbow’, ‘Thin Lizzy’ and ‘Dio’.
Matt Roberts 38 – Indie rock band ‘3 Doors Down’ founding member and guitarist.
Tom Searle 28 – songwriter and guitarist for British metalcore band ‘Architects’.
Kris Leonard 20, River Reeves 19, Tomas Lowe 27, Jack Dakin 19 – all members of indie band ‘Viola Beach’, tragically killed together in a car accident at the start of a promising career.
Paul Kantner 74 – co-founder of 60s psychedelic rock pioneers ‘Jefferson Airplane’ and later ‘Jefferson Airship’.
Signe Tole Anderson 74 – the original female vocalist for ‘Jefferson Airplane’.
John Berry 52 – original member and inventor of the band name for ‘Beastie Boys’.
Glenn Frey 67 – co-founder of ‘The Eagles’ and writer of many of their hits, as well a successful solo career.
Robert Stigwood 81 – manager, producer and promoter of many era defining artists such as Cream, Eric Clapton, and Bee Gees; producer of culture defining movies Saturday Night fever and Grease, as well as a string of hit stage rock musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair and Evita. Founder of the Robert Stigwood Organisation (RSO) entertainment empire.
Pete Burns 57 – lead singer of 80s new-wave band ‘Dead or Alive’.
Phife Dawg 45 – rapper and co-founder of hip-hop band ‘A Tribe Called Quest’.
Billy Paul 80 – pioneer soulful singer of modern R&B.
George Michael 53 – iconic and prolific singer of 80s and 90s pop music culture as part of ‘Wham’ and later as as a solo artist.
Bernie Worrell 72 – The Wizard of Woo, acclaimed keyboard wizard with the ‘Parliament-Funakdelic’ empire.
David Bowie 66.
Vanity (Denise Matthews) 57 – Canadian dancer, and as part of ‘Vanity 6’, disco-funk music protege of Prince.
Colonel Abrams 67 – 80s and 90s R&B and disco hit artist.
David Mancuso 72 – DJ and dance culture pioneer, founder of the New York loft parties that gave rise to the disco and, later, house music movements. In 1972 he discovered an obscure track by Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango that went on to be one of the most genre defining tracks of the disco and funk genres, and was widely sampled in many later hits.
Rod Temperton 66 – musician with the UK funk band ‘Heatwave’, but also writer for so many iconic dance tracks including, among many others, ‘Thriller’, ‘Rock With You’, ‘Off the Wall’, ‘Stomp!’, ‘Give Me The Night’, ‘Razzamatazz’, and ‘Yah Mo B There’.
Leonard Cohen 82 – visionary songwriter and poet.
George Martin 90 – the man who brought the Beatles to the mainstream, but was also responsible for so many hit tunes by other artists, some you would never guess!
Prince Buster 79 – Jamaican ska pioneer.
Scotty Moore 84 – guitarist from Elvis’ original backing band ‘The Blue Moon Boys’, and who played with Elvis throughout his career.
Bobby Vee 73 – clean cut American pop idol of the 60s, whose break at 15 came as a last minute stand in at a scheduled concert by Buddy Holly, who had just died in an air crash, simply because he knew all the words.
Lee Andrews 79 – leader of 50s doo wop group ‘Lee Andrews & The Hearts’ (and father of Khalib Thompson of the highly influential hip hop band The Roots).
Sharon Jones 60 – ‘The Godmother of Soul’. Big voiced soul revival singer with ‘The Dap Kings’.
Merle Haggard 79 – country music icon. You don’t know country if you don’t know the words to all of Merle Haggard’s songs.
Black (Colin Vearncombe) 53 – 80s English singer-songwriter.
Maurice White 74 – founder of disco funk giants ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’.
Greg Lake 69 – founding member of ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer’ and pioneer of the progressive rock genre.