By Juliet Ebirim
Here’s a quick recap of some of the musical talents we lost this year;
David Bowie: He was a master of music and makeovers, famous both for his talent and gender-bending artistry. The iconic “Ziggy Stardust” singer, who died on January, 10 at the age of 69 after a quiet, 18-month battle with cancer, defied labels while producing a long string of acclaimed hits in a range of genres, from glam rock to funk to hip hop. His final album, “Blackstar,” was released just days before his death.
Glenn Frey:The Eagles co-founder, who died on January 17 at the age of 67, was known for his laid-back persona and country-tinged California sound. Along with Don Henley, Frey co-wrote such indelible Eagles songs as “Best of my love”, “Lyin’ Eyes”, “One of These Nights” and “Hotel California” before going on to a ’80s solo career.
Paul Kanter: Guitarist Paul Kantner was a founding member of the ’60s psychedelic-rock band Jefferson Airplane, which later morphed into Jefferson Starship. The 74-year-old who died on January 28 was heralded as the architect of what was then known as San Francisco sound, exemplified by such trippy songs as “White Rabbit.”
Maurice White: Founder and leader of sprawling R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White died on February 4 at age 74, leaving behind a legacy of funky, spiritually uplifting hits that were loved by black and white audiences alike. Many, including ‘Shining Star’, ‘Sing a Song’ and ‘September’, will stand the test of time.
Keith Emerson : Keyboardist Keith Emerson co-founded Emerson, Lake & Palmer, which Billboard calls progressive rock’s first supergroup. The British outfit thrilled audiences with florid instrumentation and elaborate stage shows, including pyrotechnics. Emerson, 71, died on March 11 in Santa Monica, California, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a coroner said.
Phife Dawg: Born Malik Taylor, he found fame as rapper Phife Dawg, a founding member of pioneering group A Tribe Called Quest. Pitchfork published some of the most epic rhymes by the diminutive, 45-year-old rapper and lyricist who spit serious magic on the mic before dying of complications from diabetes on March 23.
Merle Haggard: Singer-songwriter Merle Haggard was a grizzled country music legend who became a voice for the working man with classics like ‘Okie from Muskogee’ and ‘Fightin’ Side of Me’. He was 79 when he died from complications from pneumonia on the 6th of April.
Prince: Prince Rogers Nelson’s music — a brilliant mix of pop, rock and stripped-down funk — transcended genres and generations. His best songs, from “When Doves Cry” to “Purple Rain” to “Kiss,” somehow sound both timeless and fresh some 30 years later. His shocking death at age 57 on April 21 drew an international outpouring of grief that showed the breadth of his influence in popular culture.
Leonard Cohen: Canadian crooner Leonard Cohen’s songwriting and poetry influenced countless musicians with its dark sensibility and ironic humor. Just before he died on November 10 at the age of 82, he released an album, ‘You want it darker’ that explored big questions about mortality and God.
Leon Russell: Rocker Leon Russel, who died in his sleep on November 13 at the age of 74, worked for years as an acclaimed session pianist before finding fame in his own right in the 1970s. His distinctive look and stage presence earned him the nickname, “The Master of Time and Space.” Russell played on the famed 1971 “Concert for Bangladesh” at Madison Square Garden.
Sharon Jones: Soul and funk singer Sharon Jones spent decades in anonymity before audiences discovered her in the mid-2000s. With her backing band, the Dap-Kings, she became legendary for her fiery live shows, earning comparisons to her idol James Brown. Jones died at the age of 60 on November 18, but not before she defiantly told Rolling Stone in July, “I have cancer; cancer don’t have me.”
Greg Lake: On December 7, the prog-rock singer and bassist died at 69 after a battle with cancer, leaving Carl Palmer as the only surviving member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Lake also co-founded King Crimson and later scored a big solo hit in the UK with “I Believe in Father Christmas.”
George Michael: Singer George Michael burst onto the scene with ’80s pop duo Wham! before reaching greater heights as a charismatic — and controversial — solo artist. With such monster hits as ‘Faith’ and ‘Freedom! ‘90’, Michael blended danceable pop with progressive social commentary. The British pop star and gay icon was 53 when he died on December 25.
Debbie Reynolds: Actress and singer Debbie Reynolds died on Wednesday, a day after the sudden death of her daughter, “Star Wars” icon Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was 84. “She’s gone to be with Carrie,” Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, said in a statement. “She loved taking care of her and now she’s gone to be with her.” Reynolds was rushed to a hospital from a Beverly Hills home at around 1 p.m. PT, according to law enforcement officials. Todd Fisher confirmed she had died Wednesday evening and later told “Variety” he blamed heartbreak for his mother’s death.