2016 was a rough year for the music industry. Since January, we’ve lost so many great artists including, among others, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White, A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg, Dead or Alive’s Pete Burns, and, most shockingly, David Bowie and Prince.
As the year comes to a close, we hope 2017 will bring better news, but for now, PRO MOTION Music News looks back on 20 iconic musicians who have left us in the past months.
Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White died Feb. 4 at his home in Los Angeles, at age 74. Under White’s leadership, the group won six Grammys and reached the top of the charts with iconic songs like “Shining Star” and “September.” Although White suffered from Parkinson’s disease, he remained an active part of the music industry until his death.
George Martin AKA the “Fifth Beatle” produced virtually all their songs, and introduced lavish arrangements into “Yesterday” and “A Day in the Life,” died March 8 at age 90.
Frank Sinatra Jr.
Frank Sinatra Jr. was an American singer/songwriter/conductor, the son of Frank Sinatra, and the younger brother of Nancy Sinatra. He died after suffering from a cardiac arrest while on tour in Daytona Beach, Florida, on March 16. He was 72.
Pete Burns best known for fronting new wave group Dead or Alive, died from a cardiac arrest on Oct. 23. He was 57 years old. Dead or Alive had a run of infectious hits in the ’80s, most notably “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”
Atlanta rapper Shawty Lo, real name Carlos Rico Walker, was best known for the his 2005 hip-hop hit with D4L “Laffy Taffy.” He died in a single-car accident on Sept. 21. He was 40 years old.
John Berry was a founding member of the Beastie Boys and credited for giving the group their name. On May 20, he passed away after suffering from frontal lobe dementia. He was 52 years old.
Attrell Stephen Cordes, Jr., aka Prince Be, was the lead singer and founding of pioneering hip-hop group P.M. Dawn. He died from renal failure, a complication of his diabetes, on June 17 in New Jesey. He was 46.
Nicholas Caldwell was a founding member of the Whispers, whose hits included “Rock Steady.” He died Jan. 5 from congestive heart failure. He was 71 years old.
Prominent club, tour, and radio DJ Big Kap worked with the Notorious B.I.G., Funkmaster Flex, and others. The hip-hop mixmaster passed away from a heart attack on Feb. 3. He was 45.
Glenn Frey, a singer, guitarist and founding member of The Eagles, died on Jan. 18 at 67. The musician and co-writer of hits like “Hotel California” and “Take It Easy” had been struggling with rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and pneumonia.
Paul Kantner, guitarist and co-founding member of Jefferson Airplane died on Jan. 28 at age 74. Kantner was the only member of Jefferson Airplane to also appear on all albums recorded by the band’s successor, Jefferson Starship.
Leonard Cohen was a legendary Canadian singer-songwriter, considered to be one of the greatest of all time. He passed away on Nov. 7, just three weeks after the release of his critically acclaimed 14th album, ‘You Want It Darker.’ He was 82 years old.
Vanity, real name Denise Matthews was the lead singer in the Prince-assembled trio Vanity 6, best known for their hit “Nasty Girl.” Matthews had long suffered from kidney failure and was being treated for abdominal illness shortly before her death. She was 57.
Pop singer, YouTube star, and Voice finalist Christina Grimmie was fatally gunned down by a stalker while signing autographs after a concert in Orlando. She was 23 years old. Her passing sent shockwaves throughout the pop world, with Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Charlie Puth and more paying tributes to her throughout 2016.
David Mancuso was a DJ and pioneer of NYC dance music culture. In the 1970s he founded the Loft, widely considered the first underground dance party in New York, and the inclusive dance event Love Saves the Day. He was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Mancuso died Nov. 14 at age 72 in his Manhattan home.
Malik Isaac Taylor, AKA Phife Dawg, was a co-founder of the legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. He passed away on March 22 due to complications related to diabetes. He was 45 years old.
He was a pioneer of rock, film, fashion, and tech, and one of the most influential musical artists of all time. He passed away from cancer on Jan. 10, just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his critically heralded 25th album, Blackstar.
Prince Rogers Nelson shockingly left us on April 21st. At first it was reported that he had battled the flu; later it was revealed that the cause of death was a prescription opiate overdose. He was 57. Prince was recognized as one of the biggest pop stars of the 80s and our generation, with classic hits “Purple Rain” and “Kiss.”
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Micheal launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and had huge success as a solo performer releasing the album Faith, which won a Grammy for Album of the Year, featured hits like “I Want Your Sex” and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. He went on to sell more than 100 million albums throughout his iconic pop music career. Michael passed was on Christmas day 2016 at age 53.