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.
Guitarist Daevid Allen, founder of the prog-rock outfits Soft Machine and Gong, died on March 13th after a long episode of cancer. He was 77.
The country singer best remembered for her 1970 hit "Rose Garden" died on July 30th from a heart attack, 67 years old.
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.
Drummer John Bradbury, a core member of pioneering two tone ska band the Specials, died December 29th at age 62.
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.
The guitarist for Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts died on March 30th of an accidental overdose. He was 34 years old.
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.
Robert Lewis "Bob" Burns Jr., the Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer who left the band in 1974 after playing on songs such as "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird," died in a car accident on April 3rd. He was 64.
The Chicago rapper, associated with Chief Keef, was shot and killed in a July 11th drive-by. He was 22.
The rapper Chinx, a member of the Coke Boys, was killed in a drive-by shooting on May 17th at age 31. His debut album was released posthumously.
Trailblazing saxophonist Ornette Coleman, a colossus of free jazz, died on June 11th from cardiac arrest, 85 years old.
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.
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.
Crump, the original drummer for rock band Molly Hatchet, died on March 16th (no cause given) at age 57.
The singer and guitarist with the Kingsmen, immortal for the garage-rock hit "Louie Louie," died on April 28th, apparently from skin cancer. He was 71.
Emmons, a Nashville songwriter and studio musician, played keyboards on dozens of chart hits ranging from Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" to Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." He died on February 23rd of an undisclosed illness, age 72.
The colorful and controversial impresario-producer-songwriter, most famous as the manager of the Runaways, died of cancer on January 15th at age 75.
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.
The singer of the Number One single "It's My Party" and other Sixties hits was felled by cancer on February 16th. She was 68.
Greene, singer with Fifties-revival act Sha Na Na died on September 5th, at age 66, after an unspecified illness.
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, 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.
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.
Johnston was most famous as a producer of acts like Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel and especially Bob Dylan, with whom he made six albums, including Blonde on Blonde. He perished from heart failure on August 14th, at the age of 83.
The avant-garde collagist most famous for his work with Negativland died of heart failure on July 22nd. He was 71.
Kemp, singer of the new jack swing smash "Just Got Paid," died at age 55 on April 16th, apparently a victim of drowning (his body was found floating at a Jamaican beach).
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.
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.
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.
Former Three 6 Mafia rapper Koopsta Knicka was killed by a stroke on October 9th. He was 40.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
The longtime Twisted Sister drummer died on a tour bus, apparently of a heart attack, on March 20th. He was 55.
The Brooklyn rapper, also known as Ruck, was a member of the groups Heltah Skeltah, Boot Camp Clik, and Random Axe. He died in his sleep on August 8th, at age 43.
The New York underground rapper and battle-rap veteran died on June 9th (no cause given) at age 39.
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.
The trumpeter, a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone, died from cancer on November 23rd. She was 71.
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.
A Bollywood composer and session musician who was renowned as a formative influence on acid house music, Singh died in his sleep on July 5th, 75 years old.
The soul giant most famous for singing "When a Man Loves a Woman" died from liver cancer on April 14th. He was 74.
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.
Rapper MC Supreme, most famous for the 1990 track "Black in America," died on June 13th when a pickup truck hit his parked car. He was 47.
The drummer, best known for his work on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's first album, died on January 18th from viral pneumonia and kidney disease. He was 66.
Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, the former drummer for Motörhead — who worked with the band from 1975 through 1984 and again from 1987 through 1992 — died on November 11 after a long illness. He was 61.
Prolific songwriter Sid Tepper wrote dozens of tunes for Elvis Presley. He died of natural causes on April 24th, age 96.
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, 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.