2016 the year the music died!
As 2016 comes to an end, I look back at some of the musicians we have lost over the last 13 months. I have done 13 months rather than just 2016 so Rock God Lemmy can be included.
28 December 2015: Lemmy
Lemmy (Ian Fraser Kilmister) (24 December 1945 – 28 December 2015) was an English musician, singer, and songwriter who founded and fronted the rock band Motörhead. He was Rock n Roll!
Born in Stoke, he grew up in North Wales and played in several rock bands in the 1960s, including The Rocking Vickers. He worked as a roadie for legendary left handed guitarist Jimi Hendrix, and others, before joining the Hawkwind and singing lead vocals on their biggest hit “Silver Machine”, which reached No. 3 in 1972. After being fired from Hawkwind, for being too Rock n Roll, he founded Motörhead as frontman, lead singer, bassist and songwriter.
Motörhead’s success peaked in the early 1980’s and included the singles “Ace of Spades” and “Killed by Death”, as well as the amazing live album “No Sleep ’til Hammersmith”.
Lemmy continued to record and tour regularly with Motörhead until his death in LA, on 28 December 2015, from prostate cancer, heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia.
10 January 2016: David Bowie
David Bowie (David Robert Jones) (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016) was a singer, songwriter and actor, for over five decades, and was regarded by critics and musicians alike as an innovator. Throughout his career he reinvented himself, with various alter-egos, and his visual presentation, music and stagecraft significantly influencing many other performers and musicians. During his lifetime, his estimated 140 million record sales worldwide, made him one best-selling music artists and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
David Robert Jones was born and raised in South London, and developed an interest in music as a child. He studied art, music and design before embarking on a career as a musician in 1963. He changed his name to David Bowie when he was 18 to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, who later became the frontman for The Monkees.
His first big hit on the UK was “Space Oddity” which was released in July 1969. Then, after a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 with his flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, his style shifted towards a sound he called “plastic soul” which initially alienated many of his UK fans but earned him his first major US success with the number-one single “Fame” and the album “Young Americans” (which included musicians Carlos Alomar, David Sanborn, Earl Slick, Luther Vandross and John Lennon).
In 1976, Bowie starred in Director Nicolas Roeg’s cult film “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and released the album “Station to Station”. The following year, he confounded musical expectations again with the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno, the electronic-inflected album “Low” (1977). This was followed by Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979); each of these album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical acclaim.
In the 1980s Bowie had UK number ones with “Ashes to Ashes”, its parent album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure”, the 1981 collaboration with Queen. He reached his commercial peak in 1983 with the album and single Let’s Dance, with the single topping the charts in the UK and US. He also continued acting, including playing Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), the Goblin King Jareth in Labyrinth (1986), and Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He stopped touring in 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006.
In 2013, Bowie returned with the release of The Next Day. Then on 10 January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of the album Blackstar, Bowie died from liver cancer in his New York City apartment. He had been diagnosed 18 months earlier but had not made the news of his illness public.
17 January 2016: Terence Dale “Buffin” Griffin
Terence Dale “Buffin” Griffin (24 October 1948 – 17 January 2016) was born in Herefordshire, and played in local bands with future, fellow Mott the Hoople member, Overend Watts. In 1969 they moved to London and with the addition of Ian Hunter, in June, Mott The Hoople were formed. Their most famous song and album was1972’s classic ‘All the Young Dudes’, which was produced by David Bowie.
During the 1980s, Griffin produced albums for Hanoi Rocks, New Model Army and The Cult, as well as the hit, ‘Is Vic There?’ for Department S.
Aged 58, Griffin was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
In January 2009 it was confirmed that the original members of Mott the Hoople would reform for three 40th anniversary reunion concerts in October 2009. Due to popular demand, the reunion was eventually extended to five shows. However, having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Griffin only performed during the encores with The Pretenders drummer, Martin Chambers, a friend of the band, playing the main set.
Griffin died in his sleep on 17 January 2016, aged 67.
18 January 2016: Glenn Frey
Glenn Lewis Frey (6 November 1948 – 18 January 2016) was an American singer, songwriter, actor, and founding member of the rock band The Eagles. He was born in Detroit, Michigan and studied piano from age five, later switching to guitar, and eventually became part of the mid-1960s Detroit rock scene.
In 1967 he met Bob Seger, and in 1968, aged 19, played acoustic guitar and sang background vocals on Seger’s single, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”. Seger strongly encouraged him to focus on writing original songs.
Frey met drummer Don Henley in 1970 when they were signed to the same label. When Linda Ronstadt needed a band for an upcoming tour, her manager hired Frey to play rhythm guitar and sing. Don Henley was then approached by Frey to join Ronstadt. While on that tour, Frey and Henley decided to form a band and they were joined by Randy Meisner on bass and Bernie Leadon on guitar, banjo, steel guitar, mandolin and dobro, forming the The Eagles.
Frey shared the lead singer and frontman role, with Don Henley, whom he also wrote most of the songs with, including “Hotel California”. He sang lead vocals on the songs “Take It Easy”, “Tequila Sunrise”, “Lyin’ Eyes” and “New Kid in Town”.
The Eagles went on to become one of the world’s best-selling groups of all time.
After the breakup of the Eagles in 1980, Frey embarked on a successful solo career. He released his debut album, “No Fun Aloud”, in 1982 and went on to record several Top 40 hits including “The Heat Is On”.
The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the first year they were nominated.
Since about 2000, Frey had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which affected the joints of his body. In November 2015, the Eagles announced that they were postponing their appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors as Frey required major surgery for intestinal problems followed by a lengthy recovery period. Following surgery in Manhattan, New York, he was placed in a medically-induced coma and on 18 January 2016, died at the age of 67, from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.
28 January 2016: Paul Kanter
Paul Lorin Kantner (17 March 1941 – 28 January 2016) was born in San Francisco, California and was a guitarist, singer and songwriter, who helped create the “San Francisco sound” that defined the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. He co-founded Jefferson Airplane, a leading psychedelic rock band, and its more commercially successful spin-off band Jefferson Starship.
Jefferson Airplane were formed in 1965 when Kantner met Marty Balin. Kantner became the leader of the group and led it through its highly successful late 1960s period. Jefferson Airplane continued to record and perform until 1972.
When the band officially broke up, Kantner continued to record and perform for the next five decades under the Jefferson Starship name. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with other band members in 1996.
He died in San Francisco on 28 January 2016, aged 74, as a result of multiple organ failure and septic shock. He had struggled with health problems for some time, having suffered a heart attack in March 2015.
4 February 2016: Maurice White
Maurice White (19 December 1941 – 4 February 2016) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger and bandleader. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1941 and was the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. He served as the band’s main songwriter and record producer, and was co-lead singer along with Philip Bailey.
He won seven Grammys, and was nominated for a total of twenty, he also sold over 90 million albums. White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and was also inducted individually into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He also worked with several famous recording artists, including Barbara Striesand and Neil Diamond.
White was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the late 1980s, which led him eventually to stop touring with Earth, Wind & Fire in 1994. He retained executive control of the band, and remained active in the music business
He died in his sleep on 4 February 2016, aged 74, after a long battle with Parkinson’s.
11 March 2016: Keith Emerson
Keith Noel Emerson (2 November 1944 – 11 March 2016) was born in Todmorden, Yorkshire, having been evacuated there from southern England during World War 2, and grew up in Goring-by-Sea, a seaside resort in West Sussex. His parents were amateur musicians and he started taking piano lessons at the age of 8.
He was an English musician and composer and played keyboards in a number of bands before he found his first commercial success with the Nice in the late 1960s. After leaving the Nice in 1970, he was a founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), one of the early progressive rock supergroups. ELP were commercially successful throughout the 1970s, becoming one of the best-known progressive rock groups of the era. Emerson wrote and arranged much of ELP’s music on albums such as Tarkus (1971) and Brain Salad Surgery (1973), combining his own original compositions with classical or traditional pieces adapted into a rock format.
Following ELP’s break-up at the end of the 1970s, Emerson pursued a solo career, composed several film soundtracks, and formed the bands Emerson, Lake & Powell and 3 to carry on in the style of ELP. In the early 1990s, Emerson rejoined ELP, which reunited for two more albums and several tours before breaking up again in the late 1990s.
In 1993, Emerson was forced to take a year off from playing after he developed a nerve-related condition affecting his right hand that he likened to “writer’s cramp” and that was also reported as a form of arthritis. By 2002 he had regained full use of his hands and could play to his usual strength. Emerson also reunited the Nice in 2002 for a tour.
In 2010 he reunited with ELP bandmate Greg Lake for a duo tour, culminating in a one-off ELP reunion show in London to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. Emerson’s last album, The Three Fates Project, was released in 2012
Emerson died, aged 71, on 11 March 2016 in Santa Monica, California, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Following an autopsy, the medical examiner ruled Emerson’s death a suicide, and concluded that he had also suffered from heart disease and from depression associated with alcohol. According to Emerson’s girlfriend Mari Kawaguchi, Emerson had become “depressed, nervous and anxious” because nerve damage had hampered his playing, and he was worried that he would perform poorly at upcoming concerts and disappoint his fans.
22 March 2016: Phife Dawg
Malik Izaak Taylor (20 November 1970 – 22 March 2016), was of Trinidadian descent and born in Queens, New York. He was known as Phife Dawg, and was an American rapper and member of the philosophically-focused rap group A Tribe Called Quest with high school classmates Q-Tip (Kamaal Ibn John Fareed) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
A Tribe Called Quest were very closely associated with other hip-hop acts De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers, being collectively known as the Native Tongues who were known for their positive minded lyricsknown for their positive-minded lyrics and sampling. known for their positive-minded lyrics and sampling. known for their positive-minded lyrics and sampling..
Their second album, 1991’s The Low End Theory, saw Phife rapping about social and political issues and has since been highly acclaimed by critics and fellow musicians. The group released three further albums throughout the 1990s before breaking up as a result of conflicts with their record label and each other.
Their biggest hit was “Can I Kick It?”, in 1991, which was based around a sample from Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side”.
Phife was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in May 1990 and died in his home in California on 22 March 2016, aged 45, due to complications relating to diabetes.
6 April 2016: Merle Haggard
Singer-songwriter Merle Haggard was a grizzled country music legend who became a voice for the working man. He died from complications from pneumonia, aged 79.
Please see my article RIP Merle Haggard – Outlaw Country Icon, 1937-2016
21 April 2016: Prince
Prince Rogers Nelson (7 June 1958 – 21 April 2016) crossed many musical genres and generations. His best songs, from “When Doves Cry” to “Purple Rain” to “Kiss,” sound both timeless and fresh even 30 years later.
He was one of the most prolific artists in music, releasing 39 studio albums (including four in the last 18 months) and writing hundreds of songs for himself and other artists.
Please see my article RIP Prince Rogers Nelson – 1958 to 2016
28 June 2016: Scotty Moore
Winfield Scott “Scotty” Moore III (27 December 1931 – 28 June 2016) was born in Tennessee, the youngest of 14 children and learned to play the guitar at eight years of age.
His early background was in jazz and country music before Sam Phillips (Sun Records) put him together with the teenage Elvis Presley. In 1954 Moore and Bill Black accompanied Elvis on what would become his first legendary hit “That’s All Right”, a recording regarded as a seminal event in rock and roll history.
Moore died on 28 June 2016, in Nashville, Tennessee, aged 84, after several months of poor health.
9 August 2016: Pádraig Duggan
Pádraig Duggan (23 January 1949 – 9 August 2016) and his twin Noel were born in County Donegal, Ireland. The twin brothers Noel and Pádraig Duggan came to prominence in the 1970s with the folk group Clannad and
Clannad’s music was a mixture of folk, folk rock, traditional Irish, Celtic and new-age, and often incorporated elements of smooth jazz and even Gregorian chant. After twelve years of success in the folk music industry, they shot to international recognition in 1982 with the release of the “Theme from Harry’s Game”, becoming the most successful band in the Celtic music genre. They subsequently went on to bridge the gap between traditional Celtic music and pop music in the 1980s and 1990s with albums such as Macalla and Anam. They toured the world extensively, recorded in six different languages and had record sales exceeding the 15 million. They won several awards including a Grammy, a BAFTA, an Ivor Novello and a Billboard Music Award.
They took a ten-year break after winning the Grammy Award for their 1998 album Landmarks and later toured extensively with their band Norland Wind.
Pádraig died peacefully in Dublin on 9 August 2016, aged 67, after suffering from a recurring illness.
September / October 2016: Rod Temperton
Rodney Lynn “Rod” Temperton (9 October 1949 – September/October 2016) was born in Lincolnshire and was an English songwriter, musician and record producer. He rose to fame as the keyboard player and main songwriter for the 1970s band Heatwave, whose hit songs included “Boogie Nights” and “Always and Forever”.
After being recruited by the legendary producer Quincy Jones, he wrote several songs for Michael Jackson, including “Thriller”, “Off the Wall” and “Rock with You”. He also wrote George Benson’s hits “Give Me the Night” and “Love X Love”, and Patti Austin and James Ingram’s US number one hit “Baby, Come to Me”, among many, many others.
He won a Grammy Award in 1991 for his work on “Birdland”, from Quincy Jones’s album Back on the Block.
On 5 October 2016, his death was announced after “a brief aggressive battle with cancer”. He had died in London, aged 66, the previous week but exact date was not announced.
7 November 2016: Leonard Cohen
Leonard Norman Cohen (21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016) was born in Westmount, Quebec, and was a singer, songwriter, musician, novelist, poet, and painter. His work mostly explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cohen pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s, and did not launch a music career until 1967, at the age of 33.
The Montreal-born singer’s hits included Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and I’m Your Man. But “Hallelujah” was probably his best known song and was first released on Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984. It had limited initial success but found greater popularity through a 1991 cover by John Cale, which formed the basis for a later legendary cover by Jeff Buckley. “Hallelujah” has since been performed by more than 200 artists in various languages.
Cohen, who was known as “the godfather of gloom”, died on 7 November 2016, aged 82, at his home in Los Angeles; cancer was a contributing cause, but his death was the result of a fall at his home and he subsequently died in his sleep.
13 November 2016: Leon Russell
Leon Russell (born Claude Russell Bridges) (2 April 1942 – 13 November 2016) was born in Lawton, Oklahoma and began playing piano at the age of four. He was an American musician and songwriter who was involved with numerous bestselling records over the course of his 60-year career. His played in genres included pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, gospel and even surf records. He had six gold records to his credit.
His collaborations rank as some of the most successful in music history and as a touring musician, he performed with hundreds of Hall of Fame artists. He recorded 33 albums and at least 430 songs. Over 100 artists have recorded his “A Song for You”.
As a pianist, he played on albums by the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. Elton John, said Russell was a “mentor” and “inspiration” and they recorded The Union together in 2010.
He produced and played in recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ike & Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, and many others. He also performed with Dylan and Eric Clapton at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, and in 2011 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Russell died at age 74 on the morning of November 13, 2016, quietly in his sleep at his suburban Nashville home. He had suffered a heart attack in July 2016 and had coronary bypass surgery, after which he postponed shows while convalescing at home.
7 December 2016: Greg Lake
Gregory Stuart “Greg” Lake (10 November 1947 – 7 December 2016) was an English bassist, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer and founding member of the bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP).
Born in Dorset, he began to play the guitar at the age of 12 and became a full time musician at 17, playing in several rock bands until fellow guitarist Robert Fripp invited him to join King Crimson as their singer and bassist. They found commercial success with their influential debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969). Lake left the band in 1970 and achieved significant success in the 1970s and beyond as the singer, guitarist, bassist, and producer of ELP.
Lake launched a solo career, beginning with his 1975 single “I Believe in Father Christmas” which reached number two in the UK. Lake performed with various groups in the 1980s, and occasional ELP reunions in the 1990s, and toured regularly as a solo artist into the 21st century.
He died on 7 December 2016 in London, aged 69, from cancer.
24 December 2016: Rick Parfitt
Richard John “Rick” Parfitt (12 October 1948 – 24 December 2016) was an English musician, singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist in Status Quo. He was born in Woking, Surrey on 12 October 1948 and started to learn to play the guitar at the age of 11.
Status Quo were formed in 1967 by Rick, Francis Rossi, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan, beginning Rick’s almost 50-year career in the band. Early success came with “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, which was written by Rossi and became the band’s only Top 40 hit in the United States.
The band’s most popular songs during the 1970s included “Paper Plane” (1972), “Caroline” (1973), “Down Down” (1975), “Rockin’ All Over the World” (1977) and “Whatever You Want” (1979). “Down Down” became their only UK number one single in January 1975.
In 1984 Parfitt and Rossi appeared on the Band Aid charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and Quo were then the opening act for 1985’s Live Aid.
Quo were highly successful in Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and by 2015 had sold over 118 million records worldwide.
At the height of the band’s fame, Parfitt and Rossi were notorious for drinking and drug use, with Rick claiming to have been spending £1,000 a week on cocaine, and up to £500 a week on vodka. In his later life, following several health issues, Parfitt led a much more sober life.
Following a heart attack, Parfitt had a quadruple heart bypass in 1997, and was told by doctors that he could die “at any time” unless he changed his lifestyle. He had a throat cancer scare in December 2005 and suffered another heart attack in December 2011.
On 1 August 2014, while on a European tour with Quo, Parfitt was hospitalised after another heart attack. On 14 June 2016, after playing with the band in Turkey, he had yet another heart attack and was hospitalized again. Parfitt was clinically dead for several minutes. By 22 June 2016 he had been flown back to the UK and was described as “comfortable” in hospital in London. In September it was announced that he was not well enough to tour in the autumn, and did not intend to tour with the band again.
Parfitt died in a Marbella hospital on 24 December 2016, aged 68, from sepsis following an infection of a pre-existing shoulder injury.
25 December 2016: George Michael
Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016), known as George Michael, was born in London, England. He was an English singer, songwriter who rose to fame with pop duo Wham! His biggest hits were in the 1980s and 1990s, and included “Last Christmas” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, and the albums Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990).
He sold more than 100 million records worldwide with his debut solo album, Faith, selling more than 20 million. He ranks among the best-selling British acts of all time, and in 2008 was ranked 40th on Billboard’s list of the Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time. He won various music awards throughout his 30-year career, including four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy’s from eight nominations.
Michael, who came out as gay in 1998, was an active LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. Following his death, many other charities revealed that he had privately supported them for many years. UK charity, Childline, said he had given them “millions” over the years and had given the royalties from his 1996 number one single “Jesus to a Child” to them. He also reportedly gave to individuals, calling the production team of the quiz show Deal or No Deal after a contestant had revealed that she needed £15,000 to fund IVF treatment, and anonymously paid for the treatment. He also supposedly once tipped a student nurse working as a barmaid £5,000 ($6,121) because she was in debt.
Michael died at his home in Oxfordshire, on 25 December 2016, aged 53. On 29 December 2016 a post-mortem was undertaken, but was inconclusive, stating further tests would be carried out to determine the exact cause of death, but results were unlikely to be known for weeks.
Why not also check out CNNs article Heaven’s Rock band got a lot better in 2016