Musical Deaths In 2016

The number of musical deaths in 2016 was, to put it mildly, staggering. Virtually every music fan remembers the deaths of Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Glenn Frey, and a host of other “legends”. But there were so many other names – some very familiar and some you may not even recognize.

Some were members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Several others should be. Some had a couple of hits, and a few more were one-hit wonders and then disappeared from the music scene. Regardless of how well you knew them – if at all – every one of them deserves to be recognized.

We have listed the date of their death, a few of the songs each gave us during their lifetime, the cause of death, and their age. May they all Rest In Peace.


January 3 – Jason Mackenroth
Drummer with The Rollins Band – Too Much Rock And Roll
Prostate Cancer 46

January 4 – Robert Stigwood
Manager of Cream and The Bee Gees
Natural Causes 81

January 5 – Nick Caldwell
Vocalist with The Whispers – Rock Steady
Cancer 71

January 7 – Kitty Kallen
Little Things Mean A Lot
Natural Causes 94

January 7 – Troy Shondell
Kissin’ At The Drive In
Alzheimer’s disease 71

January 10 – David Bowie
Singer/songwriter – Rebel Rebel, Changes, Fame, Space Oddity, Heroes, Young Americans, Golden Years, China Girl
Actor – The Man Who Fell To Earth, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Zoolander
Liver Cancer 69

January 13 – Giorgio Gomelsky
Producer for The Yardbirds, Brian Auger & The Trinity, Graham Bond, The Soft Machine
Cancer 81

January 16 – Gary Loizzo
Lead singer with The American Breed – Bend Me, Shape Me
Pancreatic Cancer 70

January 17 – Dale Griffin
Drummer with Mott the Hoople – All The Young Dudes
Natural Causes 67

January 17 – Glenn Frey
Singer/songwriter/guitarist with The Eagles – Take It Easy, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Tequila Sunrise, Hotel California, New Kid In Town
As a Solo Artist – The Heat Is On, You Belong To The City
Complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia 67

January 17 – Mic Gillette
Trumpet/trombone with Tower Of Power – You’re Still A Young Man, So Very Hard To Go
Heart Attack 64

January 23 – Jimmy Bain
Bass guitar with Rainbow – Stargazer and Dio – Holy Diver
Lung Cancer 68

January 28 – Paul Kantner
Guitarist/singer/songwriter with Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit, Somebody To Love
Multiple organ failure and septic shock after suffering a heart attack 74

January 28 – Signe Anderson
Original lead singer with Jefferson Airplane – Chauffeur Blues

February 4 – Maurice White
Singer/songwriter/producer with Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star, Got To Get You Into My Life
Parkinson’s disease 74

February 4 – Joe Dowell
Wooden Heart
Heart Attack 66

February 6 – Dan Hicks
Singer/guitarist with Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks – Canned Music
Cancer 74

February 13 – Jack Dakin
Drummer with Viola Beach – Swings And Waterslides
Car Accident 19
February 13 – River Reeves
Guitarist with Viola Beach – Swings And Waterslides
Car Accident 19
February 13 – Kris Leonard
Guitarist/singer with Viola Beach – Swings And Waterslides
Car Accident 20
February 13 – Tomas Lowe
Bass guitar with Viola Beach – Swings And Waterslides
Car Accident 27

February 15 Vanity (born Denise Katrina Matthews)
Singer with Vanity 6 – Drive Me Wild
Renal Failure 57

February 22 – Sonny James
Young Love, You’re The Only World I Know
Natural Causes 87

February 24 – Lennie Baker
Singer/saxophonist with Sha Na Na – At The Hop, Blue Moon
Infection 69

March 1 – Gayle McCormick
Lead singer with Smith – Baby It’s You
Cancer 67

March 4 – Joey Feek
Singer/songwriter with Joey & Rory (her husband) – Cheater, Cheater
Cervical Cancer 40

March 8 – Sir George Martin
Producer for The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, America, Cheap Trick
Natural Causes 90

March 10 – Gogi Grant
The Wayward Wind
Natural Causes 91

March 10 – Keith Emerson
Keyboardist/songwriter with Emerson Lake & Palmer – Lucky Man, From The Beginning, Fanfare For the Common Man, Tarkus
Suicide 71

March 16 – Lee Andrews
Lead singer with Lee Andrews & The Hearts – Teardrops, Long Lonely Nights
Natural Causes 80

March 16 – Frank Sinatra, Jr.
Black Night, Spice
Cardiac Arrest 72

March 24 – James Jamerson, Jr.
Bass guitar session musician – The Temptations, Valerie Simpson, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, and Bob Dylan
Complications of ankylosing spondyliti 58

March 29 – Patty Duke
Actress – The Miracle Worker, The Patty Duke Show
Singer – Say Something Funny
Ruptured Intestine 69

March 29 – Phil Humphrey
Guitarist/vocalist with The Fendermen – Mule Skinner Blues
Heart Failure 78

March 30 – Andy Newman
Piano with Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air
Natural Causes 73

April 2 – Mike Gibbons
Lead singer with Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods – Billy, Don’t Be A Hero
Natural Causes 71

April 4 – Carlo Mastrangelo
Baritone vocals with Dion & The Belmonts – A Teenager In Love, I Wonder Why
Lead singer with The Belmonts – Come On Little Angel
Cancer 78

April 6 – Merle Haggard
Okie From Muskogee, Mama Tried, I’m A Lonesome Fugitive
Complications from pneumonia 79

April 12 – Gib Guilbeau
Guitar/mandolin/fiddle with The Flying Burrito Brothers – River Road
Natural Causes 78

April 21 – Prince
Singer/songwriter/guitarist – Purple Rain, Let’s Go Crazy, Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret, 1999, Kiss
Actor – Purple Rain, Under The Cherry Moon, Graffitti Bridge
Fentanyl overdose 57

April 21 – Lonnie Mack
Singer/guitarist – Memphis, Wham!
Natural Causes 74

April 24 – Billy Paul
Me And Mrs. Jones, Ebony Woman, War Of The Gods
Cancer 81

May 12 – Julius La Rosa
Eh Cumpari, Anywhere I Wander
Natural Causes 86

May 19 – John Berry
Founding member of The Beastie Boys – Transit Cop, Riot Fight
Frontotemporal dementia 52

May 21 – Nick Menza
Drummer with Megadeth – Hangar 18, Symphony Of Destruction, Train Of Consequences
Heart Failure 51

May 27 – Marshall Jones
Bass guitar with The Ohio Players – Love Rollercoaster, Fire
Cancer 75

June 3 – Dave Swarbrick
Multi-instrumentalist with Fairport Convention – Walk Awhile, Come All Ye, Tam Lin
Emphysema 75

June 5 – Bobby Curtola
Fortune Teller, Aladdin
Natural Causes 73

June 8 – Brian Rading
Bass guitar/vocals with The Five Man Electrical Band – Signs
Cancer 69

June 12 – Shane Tomlinson
Lead singer with Frequency
One of 49 murdered at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando 34

June 12 – Kim Venable
Drummer with The Classics IV – Stormy, Traces
Natural Causes 72

June 13 – Chips Moman
Producer for Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, B.J. Thomas
Cancer 79

June 14 – Henry McCullough
Lead guitarist with Joe Cocker’s Grease Band – With A Little Help From My Friends
Lead guitarist on the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack
Lead guitarist for Paul McCartney – My Love, Live And Let Die
Heart Failure 72

June 21 – Wayne Jackson
Trumpet with The Mar-Keys – Boot-Leg, Last Night
Trumpet with The Memphis Horns (session group) – played on hits by Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield and Neil Diamond
Heart Failure 74

June 24 – Bernie Worrell
Keyboardist/songwriter with Parliarment-Funkadelic – Give Up The Funk
Cancer 72

June 27 – Bonny “Sir Mack” Rice
Baritone with The Falcons – You’re So Fine
Songwriter – Respect Yourself, Mustang Sally
Alzheimer’s disease 82

June 28 – Scotty Moore
Guitarist with Elvis Presley – Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, That’s All Right Don’t Be Cruel, Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, Mystery Train
Natural Causes 84

July 6 – Danny Smythe
Drummer with The Box Tops – The Letter, Cry Like A Baby
Cause of Death Unknown 67

July 16 – Bonnie Brown
Vocalist with The Three Browns – The Three Bells, The Old Lamplighter
Lung Cancer 77

July 16 – Gary Paxton
Lead singer with The Hollywood Argyles – Alley Oop
Vocalist with Skip & Flip (he was Flip) – It Was I, Cherry Pie
Produced Bobby Boris Pickett’s Monster Mash, Tommy Roe’s Sweet Pea
Complications of Hepatitis C 77

July 21 – Lewie Steinberg
Original bass guitarist with Booker T. & The MG’s – Green Onions
Cancer 82

July 27 – Pat Upton
Lead singer/guitarist/songwriter with The Spiral Starecase – More Today Than Yesterday
Prolonged Illness 75

August 2 – Carmen Romano
Baritone vocals with The Elegants – Little Star
Natural Causes 77

August 11 – Glenn Yarbrough
Singer/guitarist with The Limeliters – A Dollar Down
Solo Artist – Baby, the Rain Must Fall
Alzheimer’s disease 86

August 14 – James Woolley
Keyboardist with Nine Inch Nails – Wish, March Of The Pigs
Complications from a fall 49

August 17 – Preston Hubbard
Bass guitar with The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Wrap It Up, Tuff Enuff
Cause of Death Unknown 63

August 20 – Matt Roberts
Lead Guitarist with 3 Doors Down – Kryptonite, Duck And Run, When I’m Gone
Prescription Drug Overdose 38

August 22 – Toots Thielemans
Legendary harmonica session player – Theme from Midnight Cowboy, Sesame Street Theme, Leave A Tender Moment Alone (Billy Joel), Too Late For Goodbyes (Julian Lennon)
Natural Causes 94

September 1 – Fred Hellerman
Guitarist/singer with The Weavers – Goodnight Irene, Tzena, Tzena, Tzena
Produced Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant album
Natural Causes 89

September 4 – Joe Jeffrey
Lead singer with The Joe Jeffrey Group – My Pledge Of Love
Cancer 80

September 6 – Lewis Merenstein
Producer for Van Morrison (Astral Weeks, Moondance)
Complications of Pneumonia 81

September 16 – Jerry Corbetta
Lead singer/keyboardist/songwriter with Sugarloaf – Green-Eyed Lady, Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You
Pick’s disease 68

September 21 – John D. Loudermilk
Singer/songwriter – wrote Indian Reservation, Tobacco Road, Then You Can tell Me Goodbye
Heart Attack 82

October 3 – Joan Marie Johnson
Vocalist with The Dixie Cups – Chapel Of Love, Iko Iko
Heart Failure 72

October 5- Rod Temperton
Keyboardist/songwriter with Heatwave – Boogie Nights, Always And Forever
Songwriter – wrote Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Rock With You, Off The Wall
Cancer 68

October 8 – Don Ciccone
Lead singer/guitarist with The Critters – Mr. Dieingly Sad, Younger Girl
Cause of Death Unknown 70

October 15 – Robert “Big Sonny” Edwards
Vocalist with The Intruders – Cowboys To Girls
Heart Attack 74

October 19 – Phil Chess
Co-Founder of Chess Records
Natural Causes 95

October 23 – Pete Burns
Lead singer with Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
Cardiac Arrest 57
*I included a photo of the young and the older Pete Burns as a public service warning against plastic surgery.

October 24 – Bobby Vee
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, Rubber Ball, Take Good Care Of My Baby
Alzheimer’s disease 73

October 27 – John “The Cool Ghoul” Zacherley
Dinner With Drac
Natural Causes 98

October 30 – Curly Putman
Songwriter – He Stopped Loving Her Today, Green, Green Grass Of Home, D-I-V-O-R-C-E
Natural Causes 85

November 3 – Kay Starr
Wheel Of Fortune, The Rock And Roll Waltz
Alzheimer’s disease 94

November 4 – Eddie Harsch
Keyboardist with The Black Crowes – Hard To Handle, She Talks To Angels
Cause of Death Unknown 59

November 7 – Leonard Cohen
Hallelujah, Suzanne, Bird On The Wire
Cancer and complications from a fall 82

November 9 – Al Caiola
Legendary session guitarist; worked with Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, Bobby Darin, Simon & Garfunkel, many more
Natural Causes 96

November 11 – Doug Edwards
Guitarist/songwriter with Skylark – Wildflower
Cancer 71

November 13 – Leon Russell
A Song For You, Tight Rope, Delta Lady
Session pianist/guitarist for hundreds of artists, including George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers
Complications from a Heart Attack 74

November 14 – Holly Dunn
Are You Ever Gonna Love Me, You Really Had Me Going
Ovarian Cancer 59

November 15 – Mose Allison
Pianist/singer/songwriter – Parchman Farm, A Young Man’s Blues, Everybody’s Crying Mercy
Natural Causes 89

November 15 – Milt Okun
Producer for The Chad Mitchell Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, John Denver
Natural Causes 92

November 16 – Mentor Williams
Producer for brother Paul Williams, Kim Carnes, Dobie Gray
Songwriter – Drift Away
Lung Cancer 70

November 23 – Joe Esposito
Road manager for and personal assistant to Elvis Presley
Dementia 78

November 29 – Ray Columbus
Singer/songwriter with Ray Columbus & The Invaders – She’s A Mod, Mod Dance
Complications from a stroke 74

December 2 – Mark Gray
Keyboardist/songwriter with Exile – The Closer You Get, Take Me Down
Cause of Death Unknown 64

December 4 – Ralph Johnson
Lead singer with The Impressions – Finally Got Myself Together, Loving Power
Cause of Death Unknown 67

December 7 – Greg Lake
Lead singer/bass guitar with King Crimson – The Court Of The Crimson King
Bass guitar/guitarist/singer/songwriter with Emerson Lake & Palmer – Lucky Man, From The Beginning
As a Solo Artist – I Believe In Father Christmas
Cancer 69

December 10 – George Mantalis
Vocalist with The Four Coins – Shangri-La
Cancer 81

December 11 – Valerie Gell
Lead guitarist/singer with The Liverbirds – Why Do You Hang Around Me, Diddley Daddy, It’s So Exciting
Actress – Girl In A Band, Beat Club
Cause of Death Unknown 71

December 11 – Joe Ligon
Lead singer with The Mighty Clouds Of Joy – Time, Ride The Mighty High
Cancer 80

December 12 – Jim Lowe
The Green Door, Four Walls
Natural Causes 93

December 12 – Charles “Barrelhouse Chuck” Goering
Blues pianist/singer/songwriter – On The House, Church St. Blues
Prostate Cancer 58

December 17 – Geoffrey Mortimer
Bass guitar with The Hullaballoos – I’m Gonna Love You Too
Cancer 71

December 19 – Andrew Dorff
Songwriter – My Eyes, Neon Light, Save It For A Rainy Day, Ride, Somebody’s Heartache
Cause of Death Unknown 40

December 23 – Mick Zane
Guitarist with Malice – Captive Of Light, Kick You Down
Brain Cancer 57

December 24 – Rick Parfitt
Singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist with Status Quo – Whatever You Want, Living On An Island, Again And Again, Rain, Mystery Song, Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Actor – Bula Quo!, Coronation Street
Sepsis, following complications from shoulder injury 68

December 24 – Carole F. “Mutti” Smith
Songwriter – On The Longest Day, A Midnight Mood, Clinging To A Hope, Don’t Keep Me Hanging On (all for Sonny James)
Natural Causes 94

December 25 – Alphonse Mouzon
Drummer/vocals with Weather Report – Milky Way and The Eleventh House – The Funky Waltz
Solo Artist – Happiness Is Loving You
Cardiac Arrest 68

December 25 – George Michael
Lead Singer with Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Careless Whisper, Freedom, Last Christmas
Solo Artist – Faith, I Want Your Sex, Father Figure, Freedom! 90, Praying For Time
Heart Failure 53

December 28 – Debbie Reynolds
Actress – Singin’ In The Rain, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Tammy And The Bachelor, The Singing Nun
Singer – Tammy, A Very Special Love, Am I That Easy To Forget
Stroke 84

December 30 – Allan Williams
First manager of The Beatles
Natural Causes 86

Comments (4)

  1. Suzanne Murray

    Wow~ is all I can say!

    1. Ray (Post author)

      I didn’t expect it to take so long to put this together. Only after starting it did the list become overwhelming.

  2. Penny Capron

    Wow .. too many, kind of leaves me speechless!! There must be a hell of a lot of jammin going on in heaven……

    1. Ray (Post author)

      A very sad year indeed 🙁


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