Musical Passages, 2016, combined list

This year has seemed unusually strange and often tragic to me, as to many of the people I know and talk with on a regular basis. One factor, of course, is the insane American political campaigns and outcomes, and the implications for all of us, all over the world, for our planet itself, and for all Earthly creatures everywhere. Another factor has been the large number of famous and beloved musicians who passed away this year. Of course, many millions of people, of all kinds, died this year—an estimated 58+ million individuals, — and with a few days left till the end of the year, many more people, hundreds of thousands, will be added to this number. No way of knowing how many musicians, even famous musicians, will be among them. But the number of famous musicians who have departed this year has been startling somehow and, of course, saddening. I’m not entirely sure why, of all the various kinds of beloved and publicly celebrated persons who have died this year, so many of us have felt so impacted by the passing of many or “our” musical “stars”, but so it is.

I’ve listed below some names of various departed musicians (and some persons publicly involved in music), whom I feel are likely to be familiar to a majority of my American readers. The notes come from lists on wikipedia; I’ve combined and reduced the entries found there to form this personalized, highly selective list. If you think of other departed musicians who are on your own list, let me know. Of course I’ve left dozens of names off this particular listing.

It happens that I personally knew, somewhat, more than one or two of the persons named here, but only on a more or less superficial or casual basis. There are a few more whom I had simply met only once or twice in a mostly conventional manner. In some additional cases I have felt somewhat privately “connected” simply through sharing personal friends and/or friends-of-a-friend, without ever having known the musicians directly. But I wasn’t particularly close to any of these talented persons. Much as I love a lot of the music, I can’t I say I was among the most intense super-big-fans of any of the great stars who have departed this year. So I haven’t been quite so deeply devastated by their deaths, not like so many of their serious fans (and of course their family and friends!) have been. Still, just like everyone else, I certainly feel their loss. I really love so much of the music left to us by these amazingly talented individuals, and where it applies, of course have really enjoyed being personally acquainted, howsoever slightly, with a few of them. Some of my friends are pretty big fans of these stars, and I feel most sorry for them. It has been kind of startling at times to learn of the passing of all these artists, so many of whom have been such a part of our lives over the years through the magic of their music.

(All the following notations are straight from wikipedia.)



Long John Hunter , 84, American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. [74]

Robert Stigwood, 81, Australian band manager (Bee Gees, Cream) and film producer (Grease, Saturday Night Fever , Evita). [89]


David Bowie, 69, English singer-songwriter, musician (“Space Oddity“, “Heroes“, “Starman“), and actor (Labyrinth, Zoolander).[215]

Glenn Frey, 67, American singer-songwriter, musician (Eagles) and actor (Jerry Maguire).[385]


Signe Toly Anderson, 74, American singer (Jefferson Airplane).[592]

Paul Kantner , 74, American musician (Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship) and songwriter (“Wooden Ships“).[602]

[my note: Lovely Signe was the original lead singer for the Airplane, but left in 1966 and was “replaced” by lovely Grace Slick. Signe and Paul both passed away on the same day, but in different locations and totally unrelated circumstances.]



Vanity, 57, Canadian singer (Vanity 6), actress (The Last Dragon), and evangelist.[279]



Sir George Martin, 90, British Hall of Fame record producer (The Beatles), composer, arranger and engineer, six-time Grammy Award winner.[178]


Keith Emerson, 71, English progressive rock and rock keyboardist (The Nice; Emerson, Lake & Palmer).[214]



Dennis Davis, 64, American drummer (David Bowie, Stevie Wonder).[101]


Prince, 57, American musician, songwriter (“Purple Rain“, “Little Red Corvette“) and actor, Oscar (1984) and Grammy (1984, 1986, 2004, 2007) winner. [386]



Scotty Moore, 84, American guitarist (Elvis Presley).[485]



Pete Fountain, 86, American jazz clarinetist.[98]


Bobby Hutcherson, 75, American jazz musician.  [249]



Marni Nixon, 86, American singer (The King and I, West Side Story, My Fair Lady) and actress (The Sound of Music), breast cancer.[41





Hidayat Inayat Khan, 99. English-French classical composer, conductor, and professor. His father was the famous Indian Sufi master and Indian classical musician Hazrat Inayat Khan; his mother was an American, Ameena Begum Khan (b. Ora Ray Baker).


Charmian Carr, 73, American actress and singer (The Sound of Music).[261]



Leonard Cohen, 82, Canadian singer-songwriter (“Hallelujah“, “Suzanne“, “First We Take Manhattan“), poet and novelist (Beautiful Losers).[88]


Leon Russell, 74, American Hall of Fame musician (The Wrecking Crew) and songwriter (“Tight Rope“).[195]


Mose Allison, 89, American jazz pianist, singer and songwriter (“Young Man Blues“).[217]


Pauline Oliveros, 84, American composer and accordionist.[398]



Greg Lake, 69, English singer and musician (King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer).[229]


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