2015 In Memoriam: Musicians We Lost This Year - Rolling Stone
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2015 In Memoriam: Musicians We Lost This Year

The music world said goodbye to B.B. King, Lemmy Kilmister, Allen Toussaint, Scott Weiland and many other legends

Obit 2015; Scott Weiland; In Memory

Singer Scott Weiland poses for a portrait at his home studio in Burbank, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Chris Pizzello/AP

This year, the world of music lost some its brightest lights: Lemmy Kilmister, Allen Toussaint, Ben E. King, Scott Weiland and many more. Blues titan B.B. King was 89; up-and-coming rapper Capo was just 22. But no matter how many years they spent on this planet, all 54 of these artists — singers and songwriters, players and producers — left behind their music. This is a remembrance of their lives and legacies.

Black, Cilla

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: READY STEADY GO Photo of Cilla BLACK, performing at Television House, Kingsway (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

David Redfern/Redferns/Getty

Cilla Black

Cilla Black, a leading British pop singer in the Sixties, was closely associated with the Beatles and recorded multiple Lennon-McCartney compositions that didn't make it onto the group's albums. She died on August 1st, suffering a stroke after a fall; she was 72.

Brown-Eroll; Obit 2015

circa 1975: Popular Jamaican songwriter and singer with pop group Hot Chocolate, Errol Brown. (Photo by Sydney O'Meara/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Sydney O'Meara/Getty

Errol Brown

Brown, frontman for Hot Chocolate and singer of hits such as "You Sexy Thing" and "Brother Louie," died from liver cancer on May 6th. He was 71.

Brown, Michael

CIRCA 1965: (L-R, front) Tom Finn, Jeff Winfield and (L-R, rear) Mike Brown, George Cameron, and Steve Martin of the pop band "The Left Banke" pose for a portrait in circa 1965. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Michael Brown

At age 16, Browne wrote "Walk Away Renee," a memorable 1966 hit single for his band the Left Banke. On March 19th, at age 65, he died of heart failure.

Ornette Coleman

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 09: Ornette Coleman performs with Alto Sax live on stage at Melkweg in Amsterdam, Netherlands on November 09 1984 (photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns)

Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty

Ornette Coleman

Trailblazing saxophonist Ornette Coleman, a colossus of free jazz, died on June 11th from cardiac arrest, 85 years old.

Covay, Don

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Don Covay Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Don Covay

Don Covay was an R&B performer whose songs were memorably covered by everyone from Aretha Franklin ("Chain of Fools") to the Rolling Stones ("Mercy Mercy"). He died at age 78 on January 31st, after decades of poor health following a stroke.

Edward Crouch; obit 2015

Andrae Edward Crouch, an African-American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor, September, 2011. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Afro Newspaper/Gado/Getty

Andraé Crouch

The gospel singer and songwriter, whose choir sang on pop hits such as Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer," succumbed to a heart attack on January 8th. He was 72.

Fraser, Andy

Andy Fraser, formerly of Free, during Andy Fraser Band era, portrait, London, 24th February 1975. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Michael Putland/Getty

Andy Fraser

Andy Fraser, bassist for Free, co-wrote their enduring hit "All Right Now" with singer Paul Rodgers when he was just 15. He died on March 16th, age 62; causes were not specified, but he had been receiving treatment for both cancer and AIDS.

Greenspoon, Jimmy

Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night (Photo by Nick Valinote/FilmMagic)

Nick Valinote/FilmMagic/Getty

Jimmy Greenspoon

An in-demand keyboardist best known for his work with Three Dog Night, Greenspoon died from cancer (metastatic melanoma) on March 11th, age 67.

Guest, William

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Gladys KNIGHT & The Pips and Gladys KNIGHT and Edward PATTEN and Bubba KNIGHT and William GUEST; Posed studio group portrait L-R Edward Patten, Gladys Knight, Bubba Knight and William Guest (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Gilles Petard/Redferns/Getty

William Guest

Guest, a co-founding member of Gladys Knight and the Pips who contributed background vocals to all of the group's hits, died of congestive heart failure on December 24th. He was 74.

Johnson, Louis

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: MADISON SQUARE GARDEN Photo of BROTHERS JOHNSON and George JOHNSON and Louis JOHNSON, George (L) and Louis Johnson performing on stage (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Richard E. Aaron/Getty

Louis Johnson

Louis "Thunder Thumbs" Johnson, bassist in successful R&B group the Brothers Johnson, made his greatest impact as a session player: He played the immortal bass line on Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." He died on May 21st of undetermined causes, age 60.

Lemmy; Dead

Motörhead Zurich, Switzerland. May 2010. Portrait of Lemmy after playing at Sonisphere 2010 festival in his new band bus. Lemmy was trying to draw a new Bass guitar. Motörhead, originally called Bastard, is a long-lived and iconic heavy metal band from England formed in 1975. They are widely recognized as progenitors of thrash metal, a fusion of heavy metal and what was soon to become hardcore punk. Consequently they influenced countless rock, punk rock, and heavy metal bands that followed. The actual band members are: Lemmy Kilmister- Bass and vocals, Phil Campbell- Lead guitar and Backup vocals and Mikkey Dee at the Drums.

Pep Bonet/Rolling Stone/NOOR/Redux

Lemmy Kilmister

Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, longtime leader of hard-rock institution Motörhead and a true icon of heavy metal, died of cancer on December 28th. He was 70.

B.B. King; Obit 2015

American blues singer and guitarist B.B. King working on his album 'B.B. King In London', June 1971. (Photo by Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns)

Estate Of Keith Morris/Getty

B.B. King

The legendary blues guitarist and singer, who belted out tunes from "The Thrill Is Gone" to "Love Comes to Town," died on May 14th after multiple strokes resulting from his diabetes. He was 89.

King, Ben

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Ben E. King performs during the 34th Annual John Lennon Tribute Benefit Concert at Symphony Space on December 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty

Ben E. King

The soul singer renowned for his work with the Drifters and famous for his solo smash "Stand by Me" died of natural causes on April 30th. He was 76.

Lester-Wally; Obit 2015

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Wally Lester

As a teenager, Lester was a founding member of the Skyliners, the vocal group behind hit 1958 single "Since I Don't Have You" (also covered by Guns N' Roses). He died of pancreatic cancer on April 21st, at age 73.

MacKay Steve; Obit 2015

Musician Steve MacKay of The Stooges visits the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Gift Lounge Produced by On 3 Productions at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel March 10, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Kohen/WireImage)

Steve Mackay

The saxophonist, who played on the Stooges' Fun House and spent years touring with the band, died from sepsis on October 10th. He was 66.

Mauldin, Joe B

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: The American rock'n roll group The CRICKETS, around 1957-1958. From left to right, Jerry ALLISON (drummer), Joe B. MAULDIN (double bassist) and the famous singer Buddy HOLLY, aged 22, in 1959 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)


Joe B. Mauldin

The rock & roll pioneer who played stand-up bass with the Crickets, backing up Buddy Holly in his short but brilliant career, was felled by cancer on February 7th, age 74.

Mingiedi-Mawangu; Obit 2015

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 06: Mawangu Mingiedi of Kinono No. 1 performs the Electric Likembe on stage during Field Day Festival 2011 at Victoria Park on August 6, 2011 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Hayley Madden/Redferns)

Hayley Madden/Getty

Mingiedi Mawangu

Mawangu, the Congolese master of thumb piano and dance music best known as the founder of the collective Konono No. 1, died on April 15th (no cause given) at age 85.

Moebius, Dieter

MINEHEAD, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Dieter Moebius of Cluster performs on stage during the final day of ATP Nightmare Before Christmas at Butlins Holiday Centre on December 5, 2010 in Minehead, England. (Photo by Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns)

Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns/Getty

Dieter Moebius

Moebius, a major figure in electronic music, Krautrock and ambient music, both as a solo artist and with the groups Cluster and Harmonia, died on July 20th (no cause given) at age 71.

Richrath, Gary

MINNEAPOLIS - JULY 1987: Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon perform on the Wheels Are Turnin tour in Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 1987. (Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Gary Richrath

Richrath, the guitarist for REO Speedwagon for two decades and the co-writer of their hit "Take It on the Run," died on September 13th (no cause given). He was 65.

Robinson-Cynthia; Obit 2015

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 24: Trumpeter Cynthia Robinson performs with The Family Stone at The Greek Theatre on May 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)

Earl Gibson III/Getty

Cynthia Robinson

The trumpeter, a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone, died from cancer on November 23rd. She was 71.

Royal, Billy Joe

Billy Joe Royal during Billy Joe Royal Portrait Session in Atlanta - June 3, 1980 at Photographer's studio in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)

Tom Hill/WireImage/Getty

Billy Joe Royal

The pop and country singer best remembered for the 1965 hit single "Down in the Boondocks" died on October 6th of undetermined causes, 73 years old.

Chris Squire; Obit 2015

Bass guitarist Chris Squire of English progressive rock group Yes, 10th January 1974. Behind him are two electric guitars and an upright electric bass. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Michael Putland/Getty

Chris Squire

Bassist Chris Squire, the only member of Yes to appear on every album made by the group, was felled by leukemia on June 27th. He was 67.

Toussaint-Allen; Obit 2015

NEW ORLEANS - MAY 09: Pianist Allen Toussaint performs on stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 09,1982. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

David Redfern/Getty

Allen Toussaint

The legendary New Orleans pianist, singer, songwriter, and producer collaborated with everyone from Labelle to Elvis Costello. He died on November 10th after suffering two heart attacks while on tour in Spain; he was 77.

Weiland, Scott

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: Musician Scott Weiland poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald's McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Larry Busacca/Getty

Scott Weiland

Weiland, the rock singer most famous for fronting Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, died in his sleep on December 3rd of an accidental overdose. He was 48.

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