A look back at the amazing musicians and artists lost in 2016

2016 has been a tumultuous year full of massive events around the globe like Brexit, President Trump, ISIS attacks and much more. Amongst the furor we saw the world’s amazing talent drop like flies.

Right up until the end of the 2016 it seemed like a beloved celeb was dying every week. We lost incredible actors like the legendary Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman and last week the sad loss of Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. The industry that seemed to suffer the biggest losses however was in music.

2016 was the year we lost talent that had influenced people’s lives for half a century and will continue to for years to come. Lets take a look back at some of the beloved artists that 2016 took from us:

David Bowie – January 10th

Just days after the release of his final album Blackstar, David Bowie died of cancer following a battle that he had kept hidden from everyone except those closest to him. The album is a representation of his last dying breath, his last exploration and creation of music after a career of innovation and success.

David Bowie will be remembered not just for his musical exploration but for helping to lead a sexual revolution, influencing popular fashion and much more.

Glenn Frey – January 17th

Glenn Frey co-founded the Eagles and is responsible for some of their greatest hits, like co-writing the unforgettable Hotel California. Frey died at 67 from various afflictions including rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia.

Following the Eagles Frey had a successful solo career.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKpay8gumw0

Paul Kantner – January 28th

Kantner was a co-founder of the amazing early psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane, the band behind famous tracks like White Rabbit and Somebody To Love. Guitarist and singer, Kantner helped to define a  new sound and cultural movement particularly in San Francisco.

Kantner was struggling with his health following a heart attack in March of 2015.

Maurice White – February 4th

Earth, Wind & Fire singer and primary songwriter Maurice White passed away earlier this year at age 74 following a battle with Parkinson’s. White formed the funk-soul band with his brothers Verdine and Fred and they have since won 7 Grammys and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Frank Sinatra, Jr. – March 16th

The son of absolute legend Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Jr. a legend in his own right also died last year. Following in his father’s footsteps Frank Sinatra Jr. had a long, successful career of his own as well as singing the songs of his dad. Sinatra Jr. was on a ‘Sinatra Sings Sinatra’ tour when he died of cardiac arrest.

Frank Sinatra Jr. will live on through his music, father’s legacy and his TV appearances including starring in an episode of Family Guy to appearing as himself in The Sopranos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq5pJV5UBew

Phife Dawg – March 23

Phife Dawg, real name Malik Taylor, helped to evolve hip-hop in the early 90s by incorporating jazz and deep, complex, conscious lyrics into rapping with A Tribe Called Quest. A Tribe Called Quest was formed by Phife Dawg, Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad who are hailed as some of the best rappers and most influential hip-hop artists in history.

Phife Dawg died earlier this year during the recording of A Tribe’s first album in 18 years. The album We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service was released in November featuring posthumous verses from Phife Dawg.

Prince – April 21st

A death that resonated with many was the surprise death of one of the world’s most respected musicians and songwriters, Prince. Prince found his fame during a music career that spanned decades and saw him fuse and blend genres like putting them into a blender and creating amazing funk, soul, R&B, jazz and disco tracks that cemented his legacy in history.

The Academy Award, Golden Globe and seven-time Grammy Award winner is supposed to have died from an accidental overdose of strong painkillers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lmq6RDn5O8

Leonard Cohen – November 10th

Leonard Cohen is one of modern history’s most accomplished songwriters and has influenced generations of musicians and fans. As with Bowie, Cohen died shortly after releasing his final album You Want It Darker.

Cohen’s dark and deep lyrics combined with his powerful, soulful masculine voice stood out amongst the rock & roll and folk music that dominated during Cohen’s rise to fame. Cohen will be remembered for great tracks like Suzanne and I’m Your Man, however will likely be most remembered for creating Hallelujah, the song famously covered by Jeff Buckley.

Sharon Jones – November 18th

Sharon Jones was a latecomer to success, but after 20 years in the industry she formed Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings in Brooklyn and made her place in soul and funk history. The band became renowned for the energy and emotion emitted in their live performances, as well as their music of course.

Jones died of pancreatic cancer after being diagnosed in 2013. Earlier this year she told Rolling Stone: “I have cancer; cancer don’t have me.” On the night of the US election Sharon Jones had a stroke, followed by another the next day. Band member Gabriel Roth said: “She told the people that were there that Trump gave her the stroke. She didn’t seem anxious or scared anything, she was blaming Trump for the whole thing.”

George Michael – December 25th

George Michael, famous for being half of the music duo Wham!, passed away on Christmas day, a strangely fitting date for the Last Christmas singer. George Michael will be remembered for his time with Wham, his illustrious solo career, his work with many charities and his gay rights activism.

Last Christmas he truly did give us his heart as he passed away from heart failure on the day of Christmas.

Here’s to a 2017 filled with music, but please go easy on the deaths this year.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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