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In Memoriam 2017: People We Lost This Year

We bid farewell to visionaries, iconoclasts and trailblazers – including Tom Petty, Chuck Berry and Chris Cornell – in music, film, TV and beyond

2017 was a painful year for many reasons, for many people: Trump, politics and almost everything happening in Washington, D.C. Natural disasters. Acts of terrorism. Gun violence. An unearthed pandemic of sexual misconduct. Amid all of this cacophony were sobering, destabilizing losses – the deaths of artists, creators and heroes in music and beyond. The passing of greats like Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Glen Campbell and Gregg Allman marked the sad but inevitable fading of older, culture-defining generations. Others felt like a gut-punch: especially the sudden, shocking departures of Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and Tom Petty, masters who performed days before they left us. Regardless of the circumstances, the names here leave behind legacies and bodies of work to pore over and examine over the years to come – here’s how they’ll be remembered.

In Memoriam 2017 Rolling Stone

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Glenne Headly

Glenne Headly, star of films like Dick Tracy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Mr. Holland’s Opus, died June 9th at the age of 62 from complications of a pulmonary embolism.

Her Mr. Holland’s Opus costar Richard Dreyfuss told The Hollywood Reporter she was “this fantastically talented actress, who buried her personality beneath the character she was playing. And it is very rare that you run into that. And at the same time, she was sweet and funny and happy on the set… She was a person who did not insist that her personality take over the character.”

He added: “Glenne let it all out, and it was so emotionally enormous and truthful. It was so loaded with love and loss and anguish. It was incredible to see her do that.”

In Memoriam 2017 Rolling Stone Anita Pallenberg

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Anita Pallenberg

Anita Pallenberg, the actress, model and former partner of Rolling Stones guitarists Brian Jones and Keith Richards, died at age 75 on June 13th after a long illness at St. Richard’s Hospital, Chicheste.

“She was a rock & roll legend in herself, a style icon, a crucial part of the Stones’ mystique,” Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield wrote. “She taught Keith her sinister glare, taught Mick Jagger her wiggle, taught Brian Jones how to wear floppy hats.

“A most remarkable woman. Always in my heart,” Richards said in a statement. 

Nelsan Ellis In Memoriam 2017

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Nelsan Ellis

Following complications from heart failure and alcohol addiction, Nelsan Ellis, the actor who portrayed Lafayette on all seven seasons of the HBO horror-drama series True Blood – with film roles in Lee Daniels’ The Butler (as Martin Luther King, Jr.), Secretariat, The Help, The Stanford Prison Experiment and James Brown biopic Get On Up, died at the age of 39 in July.

“Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me,” True Blood series creator Alan Ball said.

Added costar Anna Paquin: “It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul. I’m devastated by his untimely death.”

In Memoriam 2017 Rolling Stone

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Jessi Zazu

Jessi Zazu, the co-founder of Those Darlins and innovative singer who bridged country and indie rock sounds, died following a very public battle with cervical cancer in Nashville on September 12th. She was 28.

“Yesterday I said goodbye to my best friend, longtime partner in crime and hero, Jessi Zazu Wariner,” Those Darlins drummer Linwood Regensburg said in a statement. “She maintained a sense of humor and a commanding presence up until and through her final moments. She was in the company of those who cared deeply about her and who she cared deeply about.”

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