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Notable music deaths of 2016

December 27th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

all-the-people-whove-died-2016

Readers of the monthly In Memoriam round-up would have spotted 2016 as an annus horribilis in music deaths already in March — by the time Prince went in April, we were just confirmed in that view.

The only nearly comparable year I can think of is 1977, when Elvis Presley, Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, Sandy Denny and Buddy Johnson went, plus the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the plane crash (1978 was also shitty, so don’t even hope for a milder 2017). Given that the pool of pop musicians of death-appropriate age was still pretty small then, that was some heavy-going. But at least, for all its not insignificant problems, 1977 was not the political clusterfuck which 2016 was. Indeed, 1977 was the post-war 20th century we knew; 2016 put an end to that era.

As always in my end-of-year In Memoriam round-up, I nominate the most significant deaths of the year by categories of 20 (in pop-rock), tens or fives. Some people could have been included in more than one; I might have omitted somebody who you think must be included, but them’s the subjective shakes. There are some I wanted to include, but just couldn’t. The stories of many the people listed here, and many more who aren’t, were told in the monthly In Memoriams — revisit them here.

Some of the people who died were paid tribute to with special mixes:, a mix of songs that Rod Temperton wrote or produced or played on, a mix of covers of Leonard Cohen songs, a DJ setlist compiled by Prince himself, and Ziggy Stardust in cover versions.

And this year, I offer a People Who’ve Died 2016 mix: I’ve chosen the 20 people who died this year whose music meant the most to me. In that, I’ll limit myself to people actually being in the featured band, so no songwriters, producers or session musicians will feature, even if the body of their contributions was weighty.

So, with that to the year’s dead. If anybody meriting inclusion dies within the last few days of the year, I’ll include them in edits, as I did with Natalie Cole in last year’s Notable Music Deaths of 2015. Of course they’ll feature in the monthly In Memoriam list, which will appear in the first week of the new year.

And, 2016, do fuck off.

 

POP/ROCK
David Bowie
, 69, legend, on Jan. 10
Prince, 57, music genius, on April 21
Leonard Cohen, 82, Canadian singer-songwriter and poet, on Nov. 7
George Michael, 53, English singer and songwriter (Wham!), on Dec. 25
Leon Russell
, 74, singer, songwriter and musician, on Nov. 13
im16-rock-pop_1

Glenn Frey, 67, member of Eagles, singer-songwriter, actor, on Jan. 18
Rick Parfitt, 68, rhythm guitarist and singer with Status Quo, on Dec. 24
Greg Lake, 69, English singer and guitarist/bassist (King Crimson, ELP), on Dec. 7
Keith Emerson, 71, English rock keyboardist (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), on March 10
Black/Colin Vearncombe, 53, British singer-songwriter, on Jan. 26
im16-rock-pop_2

Pete Burns, 57, English singer and songwriter (Dead or Alive), on Oct. 23
Henry McCullough, 72, Northern Irish guitarist with Spooky Tooth, Wings, on June 14
Paul Kantner, 74, guitarist, singer, co-founder of Jefferson Airplane/ Starship, on Jan. 28
Signe Toly Anderson, 74, original singer of Jefferson Airplane, on Jan. 28
Alan Vega, 78, half of protopunk duo Suicide, on July 16
im16-rock-pop_3

Dale Griffin, 67, drummer of Mott The Hoople, on Jan. 17
Andy Newman, 73, pianist of British band Thunderclap Newman, announced on March 30
Lennie Baker, 69, singer with Sha Na Na, on Feb. 24
Nick Menza, 51, German-born drummer of Megadeth, on May 21
Steven Young, member of British electronic bands Colourbox and M/A/R/R/S, on July 13
im16-rock-pop_4

 

SOUL/FUNK
Maurice White, 74, singer, drummer, composer, producer, arranger, on Feb. 4
Billy Paul, 81, soul singer, on April 24
Wayne Jackson, 74, legendary trumpeter (The Memphis Horns), on June 21
Bernie Worrell, 72, keyboard player with Parliament-Funkadelic, on June 24
Mack Rice, 82, soul songwriter and singer, on June 27
im16-soul_1

Phife Dawg, 45, member of hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, on March 22
Colonel Abrams, 67, soul/funk singer, on Nov. 25
Nicholas Caldwell, 71, extravagantly bearded singer with The Whispers, on Jan. 5
Kashif (née Michael Jones), 56, soul singer, songwriter and producer, on Sept. 25
Clarence ‘Blowfly’ Reid, 76, soul-funk musician, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 17
im16-soul_2

 

COUNTRY
Merle Haggard, 79, country singer-songwriter, on April 6
Ralph Stanley, 89, bluegrass legend, on June 23
Jean Shepard, 82, country singer and songwriter, on Sept. 25
Steve Young, 73, country singer–songwriter, on March 17
John D. Loudermilk
, 82, singer and songwriter, on Sept. 21
im16-country_1

Red Simpson, 81, country singer and songwriter, on Jan. 8
Sonny James, 87, country singer-songwriter, on Feb. 22
Bonnie Brown, 77, member of country group The Browns, on July 16
Holly Dunn, 59, country music singer-songwriter, on Nov. 14
Joe Clay, 78, rockabilly singer and guitarist, on Sept. 26
im16-country_2

 

FOLK
Guy Clark, 74, folk and country singer-songwriter, on May 17
Fred Hellerman, 89, folk singer-songwriter, guitarist with The Weavers; producer, on Sept. 1
Glenn Yarbrough, 86, folk singer, on Aug. 11
Dave Swarbrick, 75, fiddler with British folk band Fairport Convention, on June 3
Oscar Brand, 96, folk singer-songwriter, author and radio personality, on Sept. 30
Karl Dallas, 85, folk songwriter, writer and peace campaigner, on June 21
im16-folk

 

JAZZ
Mose Allison, 89, jazz pianist, singer and songwriter, on Nov. 15
Toots Thielemans, 94, Belgian jazz harmonica player and guitarist, on Aug. 22
Alphonse Mouzon, 68, jazz fusion drummer, on December 26
Jeremy Steig, 73, jazz-rock flautist, on April 13
Joe Houston, 89, R&B and jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 28, 2015 (didn’t make on last year’s round-up)
Bill Henderson, 90, jazz singer and actor, on April 3
im16-jazz

 

MOM’S FAVOURITES
Bobby Vee, 73, pop singer, on Oct. 24
Kay Starr
, 94, pop and jazz singer, on Nov. 3
Marni Nixon, 86, singer (voice-over for Natalie Wood, Audrey Hepburn etc), on July 24
Gogi Grant, 91, pop and musicals singer, on March 10
Frank Sinatra Jr., 72, singer and actor, on March 15
im16-moms-faves

 

PIONEERS
Scotty Moore, 84, pioneering Rock & Roll guitarist, on June 28
Lonnie Mack, 74, singer and guitar pioneer, on April 21
Emile Ford, 78, Saint Lucia-born pop singer and pioneering sound engineer, on April 11
Jean-Jacques Perrey
, 87, pioneering French electronic musician, producer, on Nov. 4
Ray ‘Miss Ray’ Singleton, 79, early Motown songwriter and producer, on Nov. 11
im16-pioneers

 

WORLD
Papa Wemba, 66, Congolese singer, on April 24
Hubert Giraud, 94, French songwriter, on Jan. 16
Naná Vasconcelos, 71, Brazilian jazz percussionist and singer, on March 9
Buckwheat Zydeco, 68, accordionist and bandleader, on Sept. 24
Mandoza
, 38, South African kwaito musician, on Sept. 18
im16-world

 

BLUES/ GOSPEL/REGGAE/SKA
Prince Buster, 78, Jamaican ska musician, on Sept. 8
Joe Ligon, 80, lead singer of gospel group Mighty Clouds Of Joy, on Dec. 11
Long John Hunter, 84, blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, on Jan. 4
Candye Kane
, 54, blues singer-songwriter and porn actress, on May 6
L.C. Ulmer, 87, blues musician, on Feb. 14
im16-blues-etc

 

SESSION MUSICIANS
Harrison Calloway, 75, trumpeter and leader of the Muscle Shoals Horns, on April 30
Bob Cranshaw, 83, jazz bassist, on Nov. 2
Herbert Hardesty, 91, jazz trumpeter & saxophonist, on Dec. 3
Al Caiola
, 96, American guitarist and composer, on Nov. 9
Dennis Davis, session drummer, on April 6
im16-session-players

 

PRODUCERS/ARRANGERS
George Martin, 90, English record producer, composer, arranger and engineer, on March 8
Chips Moman, 79, songwriter, producer, engineer, guitarist, on June 13
Rod Temperton, 66, English keyboardist, songwriter, producer, on Oct. 5
Lewis Merenstein, 81, producer (Van Morrison), on Sept. 6
Giorgio Gomelsky, 81, impresario, band manager, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 13
im16-producers

 

SONGWRITERS
Curly Putman, 85, country songwriter, on Oct. 30
Sonny Sanders, 77, soul songwriter, arranger, producer, on Oct. 12
Jimmy Haskell, 79, arranger, conductor and TV/film composer, on Feb. 2
Gary S. Paxton, 77, producer and singer-songwriter, on July 16
Sandy Pearlman, 72, producer, songwriter and manager, on July 26
im16-songwriters

 

MOVERS & SHAKERS
Phil Chess
, 95, producer and co-founder of Chess Records, on Oct. 19
Robert Stigwood, 81, Australian music, theatre and film impresario, on Jan. 4
Chris Stone, 81, co- owner of the Record Plant studio, on Sept. 10
David Mancuso, 72, DJ and founder of New York club The Loft, on Nov. 12im16-movers-shakers

And so to the tribute mix. CD-R length, home-untertaken covers included. PW in comments.

1. Status Quo – Again And Again (1978)
2. David Bowie – Changes (1971)
3. Leon Russell – Roll Away The Stone (1970)
4. Mott The Hoople – All The Way From Memphis (1973)
5. Prince – Baby I ‘m A Star (1984)
6. Mandoza – Nkalakatha (2001)
7. Sir Mack Rice – Dark Skin Woman (Part 1) (1975)
8. Billy Paul – Let ‘Em In (1974)
9. Earth, Wind & Fire – In The Stone (1979)
10. Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1976)
11. The Whispers – Let’s Go All The Way (1978)
12. Black – Wonderful Life (1987)
13. George Michael – A Different Corner (1986)
14. Eagles – New Kid In Town (1976)
15. Leonard Cohen – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1967)
16. Papa Wemba – Le Voyageur (1992)
17. Bobby Vee – Run to Him (1961)
18. Guy Clark – Stuff That Works (1995)
19. Merle Haggard – In My Next Life (1994)
20. Ralph Stanley – O Death (2000)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    December 27th, 2016 at 08:43 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. peerke
    December 27th, 2016 at 15:07 | #2

    How about Thoots Thielemans?

  3. halfhearteddude
    December 27th, 2016 at 15:15 | #3

    Damn, yes. I thought he was last year. But there he is, in August 2016. I’ll add him forthwith. And Glenn Yarbrough.

  4. December 27th, 2016 at 17:27 | #4

    How could you forget Dan Hicks?? He could be in any of your genre lists!

  5. Tsi
    December 27th, 2016 at 20:10 | #5

    Great Job,
    But Joe Houston, 89, R&B and jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 28??? We are the 27Th!

  6. halfhearteddude
    December 27th, 2016 at 21:34 | #6

    Good spot. He died on December 28 last year, but didn’t make it on the 2015 round-up.

  7. tom
    December 28th, 2016 at 00:34 | #7

    Thanks for the time and effort you put into the In Memoriams. And now the notable music deaths of 2016. But please, don’t forget Bap Kennedy.

  8. tom
    December 28th, 2016 at 00:42 | #8

    And now we’re at it, how about Michel Delpech? Passed away January 2nd, 2016. Known for songs like ‘Pour un flirt avec toi’. Was 69 years old.

  9. tom
    December 28th, 2016 at 14:21 | #9

    I don’t mind erasing my remarks, but why erase Bap Kennedy?

  10. halfhearteddude
    December 28th, 2016 at 21:00 | #10

    Tom, the comments needed approving before they appeared in public. I didn’t erase them. The people listed here are those I considered most notable by impact in their respective categories. I am a fan of Bap Kennedy (I just listened to him in the car this morning) and he featured in the monthly round-up with a write-up. But in the broader sense, his impact was not as great as those whom I listed, in my opinion.

    I also love “Pour un flirt avec toi”; it was a featured song in that month’s round-up (I actually have the German cover by Randolph Rose, “Nur ein Flirt” on my nostalgia playlist).

  11. eddie
    December 28th, 2016 at 22:54 | #11

    Lennie Baker picture looks wrong. I think that’s a picture of Jocko, not Lennie.

  12. December 28th, 2016 at 23:27 | #12

    Sharon Jones of the Dap Kings passed away 11/18/16.

  13. Jean Pierre Tilleaux
    December 29th, 2016 at 02:31 | #13

    Yeah, fuck off 2016 – I wanted to reply yesterday: It’s not over yet!!!
    I read the news today, oh boy – and found this:
    http://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/schleswig-holstein/Musiker-Knut-Kiesewetter-gestorben-,kiesewetter140.html – OK, his international impact may be also be not so big.
    But for us German old Fartz it’s another sad moment in a year that can go to hell!

  14. halfhearteddude
    December 29th, 2016 at 10:51 | #14

    Indeed. I recorder her passing in the November edition of In Memoriam:
    http://www.halfhearteddude.com/2016/12/in-memoriam-november-2016/

  15. halfhearteddude
    December 29th, 2016 at 10:52 | #15

    To b honest, I thought Kiesewetter had died years ago. He was an institution.

  16. Claire
    December 29th, 2016 at 12:23 | #16

    Phife Dawg! Mandoza! Those I did not know…

  17. Exooregon
    December 30th, 2016 at 19:17 | #17

    Thanks for this list…I try to keep up every month. One who I think deserves mention is Milt Okum. Here’s what wiki says about him.

    Milton Theodore “Milt” Okun (December 23, 1923 – November 15, 2016) was an American arranger, record producer, conductor, singer and founder of Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company, Inc. Okun transformed the careers of a dozen or more major U.S. artists who under Okun’s tutelage became some of the most successful musical acts of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. A special on PBS alludes to Okun as one of the most influential music producers in history. His career lasted over 50 years, from the folk revival to the twenty-first century.

    He created arrangements or produced for a large number of popular groups and artists such as Peter Paul and Mary, The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Brothers Four, John Denver, and Miriam Makeba. In 1968 he interviewed many American folksingers and published the songs they chose in Something to Sing About!

    At the height of Okun’s career, a critic wrote, “Of all producers, Milton Okun’s range is the widest, from Plácido Domingo to the Muppets.” Conductor for Harry Belafonte, arranger and producer of Peter, Paul and Mary, the man who brought John Denver to stardom and produced his most loved hits, Okun also founded Cherry Lane Music, the music publishing company for Elvis and DreamWorks among many other household names.

    Okun died on November 15, 2016, at the age of 92.

  18. halfhearteddude
    December 30th, 2016 at 20:24 | #18

    I wrote about him in the November In Memoriam. On my list of producers for the round-up post, he was at number 6, just missing out on inclusion.

  19. RhodB
    December 30th, 2016 at 22:28 | #19

    Thanks for the effort in compiling these shares a lot of effort must go into each one

    much appreciated

    RhodB

  20. Cousin Wally
    January 1st, 2017 at 20:12 | #20

    You should include Debbie Reynolds and Patty Duke as they also recorded songs. What a terrible year for music!

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