In Memoriam 2016: Artists, Entertainers, Athletes Who Died - Rolling Stone
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In Memoriam 2016: People We Lost This Year

We said good-bye to icons – David Bowie, Prince and Muhammad Ali – and many more talented and cherished artists, entertainers and athletes

Death is never easy, and 2016 was a year that continued to prove that point as we experienced the loss of so many of our brightest lights. The shock of David Bowie's death in January, two days after he released his latest album, reverberated across generations, but it would turn out to be only the beginning of legendary talents that left this planet. It continued into the last week of this year when George Michael and Carrie Fisher died, making this year feel especially brutal as it wrapped up. It can feel odd to experience grief at a high-profile death – someone who you may have never met in person but who you communed with through songs, images or pivotal cultural touchstones. But we did ache as they were subtracted from our world. Here, is a remembrance of some of their lives and legacies.

Arnold Palmer

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Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer, known simply as "the King," who had 95 professional wins, four victories at the Masters, a U.S. Open and three PGA Championships, died at the age of 87 on September 23rd.

There are few athletes of his or any other time so beloved even beyond the sport they played. Some might be more familiar with the drink the Arnold Palmer, the lemonade and iced tea drink that bears his name, and his company has been selling its own version since 2001. The fact that a man who played a game like golf could connect with anybody, from people who only enough time to hit the links maybe once a month to big-money CEOs, and who brought his sport to new heights, means his legacy will live on for a very long time to come. 

Although many consider golf elitist, Palmer was always humble and open. "I'm flattered by the fact that people want to talk to me or shake hands with me or get an autograph," he told Esquire in 2014. "I feel flattered that they want that. And I try to do all I can to accommodate."

Dylan Rieder

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Dylan Rieder

Dylan Rieder, a renowned professional skateboarder and model died on October 12th due to complications from leukemia. He was 28. Known for his effortless and graceful style, strength and memorable video appearances, Rieder influenced a generation of skateboarders.

"Dylan Rieder. One of the most talented and brave men," Ozzy Osbourne tweeted, along with a picture of the two of them together. "I feel blessed to have known you. Rest in peace Dylan. My love and condolences to his family."

Pete Burns

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Pete Burns

Pete Burns, lead singer of the Eighties goth new wave band Dead or Alive and their smash "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)," died on October 23rd after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 57.

The androgynous Burns, who began cross-dressing as a six-year-old, emerged in the late Seventies as a member of the goth band Nightmares in Wax, which released their lone EP Birth of a Nation, highlighted by the single "Black Leather," in 1979 before adopting the name Dead or Alive.

Boy George, who weathered comparisons both musically and stylistically to Burns, tweeted of the Dead or Alive singer, "Tearful about the passing of @PeteBurnsICON he was one of our great true eccentrics and such a big part of my life! Wow. Hard to believe!"

Leonard Cohen

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Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential singer and songwriter whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died on November 7th at the age of 82.

"My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records," Cohen's son Adam wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. "He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor."

"I never had the sense that there was an end," Cohen said in 1992. "That there was a retirement or that there was a jackpot."

Leon Russell

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Leon Russell

Leon Russell, renowned multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who collaborated with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, the Rolling Stones and Elton John over the course of 50 years in the music industry, died on November 13th. He was 74.

Elton John, who collaborated with Russell on 2010's The Union, paid tribute to the musician on Instagram. "My darling Leon Russell passed away last night. He was a mentor, inspiration and so kind to me," John wrote. "Thank God we caught up with each other and made The Union. He got his reputation back and felt fulfilled. I loved him and always will."

Sharon Jones

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Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones, the fiery soul singer who spent decades in obscurity before becoming a Grammy-nominated soul and funk vocalist with her longtime backing band the Dap-Kings, died on November 18th of pancreatic cancer. She was 60.

"I'm not trying to ride anybody’s coattails," the singer said in 2008. "I'm just doing my thing and people are coming to us."

Florence Henderson

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Florence Henderson

Florence Henderson, the actress who portrayed matriarch Carol Brady on the Seventies sitcom The Brady Bunch, died on November 24th, Thanksgiving Day, in Los Angeles from heart failure. She was 82.

Henderson's agent Kayla Pressman added, "Florence was the most vibrant and caring woman I have ever known. She never had an unkind word about anyone. She was a wonderful mother and was so proud of her 4 children and 5 grandchildren."

Greg Lake

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Greg Lake

Greg Lake, a singer and multi-instrumentalist who helped propel prog rock into the mainstream as a member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and King Crimson, died December 7th. His manager told the BBC he had recently had "a long and stubborn battle with cancer"; the news came nine months after the death of his bandmate, Keith Emerson. He was 69.

"It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow bandmate, Greg Lake," Carl Palmer wrote in a statement. "Greg's soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings he made with ELP and King Crimson. I have fond memories of those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together. Having lost Keith this year as well has made this particularly hard for all of us. As Greg sang at the end of Pictures at an Exhibition, 'death is life.' His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him."

George Michael

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George Michael

George Michael, the soulful British heartthrob who became a star in the Eighties as half of Wham! before earning critical acclaim as a solo artist, died on Christmas morning at his home in Goring in Oxfordshire, England. The cause of death was heart failure, and he was 53.

"I am in deep shock," Elton John wrote on Instagram. "I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans."

Carrie Fisher

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Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher, the iconic actress who portrayed Princess Leia in the Star Wars series, died December 27th, following a massive heart attack. She was 60. Then a day later, her mother, veteran actress Debbie Reynolds, died at the age of 84.

"Carrie was one-of-a-kind, brilliant, original," Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo alongside Fisher, added in a statement. "Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely. My thoughts are with her daughter Billie, her mother Debbie, her brother Todd and her many friends. We will all miss her."

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