For more than five decades, Aretha Franklin was a singular presence in pop music, a symbol of strength, women’s liberation and the civil rights movement. Franklin, one of the greatest singers of all time, died in August.
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The 26-year-old rapper known for his canny wordplay and artistic reinvention died in September at his Los Angeles home.
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Tim Bergling, the Swedish EDM DJ and producer known as Avicii, died at age 28 in April.
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Author Tom Wolfe
The Bonfire of the Vanities author helped pioneer a highly personalized style of pop journalism, covering everything from acid tests to astronauts. The brilliant, zeitgeist-channeling journalist and novelist — who could absorb fascinating subcultures within American life and transform them into electric prose — died in May at the age of 88.
The chef, writer, and Emmy-winning television personality, died in June at the age of 61.
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The writer, editor and comics publisher — who helped bring Spider-Man, X-Men, the Avengers to life — was one of the greatest pop-culture creators of his era. He died in November at age 95.
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Burt Reynolds, the charismatic, mustachioed movie star known for films like Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit and Boogie Nights, died in September at the age of 82.
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Blues Brothers Guitarist Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy
Matt “Guitar” Murphy, guitarist for the Blues Brothers and noted sideman for blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Memphis Slim, died in June.
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Paul Allen, Co-founder of Microsoft
The tech tycoon who co-founded Microsoft and became one of the world’s wealthiest men died in October. He was 65 years old
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Charlotte Rae, the Tony- and Emmy-nominated actress best known for her recurring role as Edna Garrett on Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life, died in August at age 92.
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DJ Lovebug Starski
Kevin Smith, the Bronx DJ and rapper known as Lovebug Starski who is often credited with coining the term “hip-hop,” died in February.
Country Music Hall of Fame member was known for such songs as “Yesterday, When I Was Young” and for co-hosting ‘Hee Haw’ with Buck Owens. He died in November at the age of 85.
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Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of the Last Poets
Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, whose work in the spoken-word group the Last Poets helped earn him the title of the “Grandfather of Rap,” died in June at age 74.
Composer Johann Johannsson
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Icelandic electronic musician and Oscar-nominated film composer of The Theory of Everything, Sicario and Arrival, died in February at the age of 48.
Artist known for such hits as “I Let Her Lie” and “Amen Kind of Love” died in February at his home near Nashville at the age of 46.
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The piano radical polarized listeners with his turbulent creative flights, but rewarded the faithful with some of the most thrilling avant-garde sounds of his time. He died in April at the age of 89.
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Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues
Ray Thomas, flautist, vocalist and founding member of the Moody Blues, died in January.
William Goldman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of All the President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, died in November at the age of 87.
Pearls Before Swine Band Mastermind Tom Rapp
Tom Rapp, the leader of the beloved psych rock outfit Pearls Before Swine and a longtime civil rights lawyer, died in February.
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Josh Fauver of Deerhunter
The musician played on four of the band’s albums, including ‘Halcyon Digest’ and ‘Microcastle,’ and co-wrote “Nothing Ever Happened”. He died in November at the age of 39.
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Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd
The former member of Strawberry Alarm Clock joined the Southern rock band in 1972 to give it its three-guitar sound. He died in August at the age of 68.
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‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Creator Stephen Hillenburg
Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Nickelodeon’s long-running hit cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, died after a battle with ALS. He was 57.
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Danny Kirwan, Former Fleetwood Mac Guitarist
The former Fleetwood Mac guitarist who played on five of the British band’s albums died in June at the age of 68. “Danny’s true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully,” Mick Fleetwood writes
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The Grammy-winning trumpeter and jazz musician, who worked alongside artists like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Common and Sonny Rollins, died in November at the age of 49.
Yvonne Staples of Staple Singers
From Left: Mavis Staples, Pops Staples, Cleotha Staples and Yvonne Staples of the Staple Singers pose for a portrait in 1977. Yvonne provided background vocals on 1970s hits from funky family gospel outfit. She died in April at the age of 80.
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Eddie Clark of Motorhead
“Fast” Eddie Clarke, the Motörhead guitarist featured on many of the band’s classic albums and a founding member of Fastway, died in January. He was 67.
The second oldest of the four brilliant Neville brothers, the saxophone-playing mystic died at 79.
Actor Verne Troyer
Verne Troyer, the diminutive actor who appeared as Mini-Me in the Austin Powers series, died in April at the age of 49.
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Director Milos Forman
The Oscar-winning director behind Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon died in April at the age of 86.
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The actress who portrayed Lois Lane in four Superman films died in May at the age of 69.
Comic Book Artist Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko, the legendary comic book artist and co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with Stan Lee, died at the age of 90.
Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks
The singer and guitarist for the trailblazing British punk outfit the Buzzcocks, died in December at the age of 63.
Steve Soto of the Adolescents
Southern California musician also played in Agent Orange, Joyride, 22 Jacks, Manic Hispanic. He died in June at the age of 54.
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The Oscar-winning filmmaker and auteur behind Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor, died in November at the age of 77
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Nick Knox of the Cramps
The longtime drummer for the influential psychobilly band the Cramps died in June at the age of 60.
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Director Nicolas Roeg
The visionary filmmaker whose enrapturing, sensuous movies — who also helmed horror classic Don’t Look Now and Mick Jagger-starring Performance — transformed the way audiences and his fellow directors understood cinematic language, died in November at the age of 90.
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The Fifties actor and heartthrob who became a gay icon following the publication of his 2005 memoir died in July at the age of 86.
Reg E. Cathey
The prolific Emmy-winning actor who played pivotal roles in acclaimed series like House of Cards, The Wire and Oz died in February at the age of 59.
The actor who played the role of Martin Crane on Frasier for 11 seasons, died in February at the age of 77.
The rapper who had the first hit on P. Diddy’s iconic hip-hop label Bad Boy Records died in March. He was 47.
Tower Records Founder Russ Solomon
Solomon started Tower Records – named after the local Tower Theatre – in 1960, growing the business from the back of a Sacramento drugstore to, at its peak, a CD giant with over 200 brick-and-mortar stores spanning North America to Japan. He died this year at the age of 92.
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The controversial rapper was shot and killed in Broward County in June while shopping for motorcycles. He was 20.
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