We lost many cultural icons this year. While we did lose ones from every part of society, from political figures, writers, actors, and more, the thing we seemed to have lost the most of was musicians. Every year we have celebrity deaths that seem impossible to overcome. Generally you can point to a year and you think of one death, the death that defines that year. In 2009 it was Michael Jackson, in 2014 it was Robin Williams. This year featured several people of such magnitude they would carry the year by themselves. You can't point to this year and only think "That's the year Bowie died", because as much as his death COULD define this year, people like Prince or Muhammad Ali would pop into your brain.
It was more than just the fact there were scores of deaths of major members of the music sphere. 2016 burned it into our brains how important a year it would be by delivering many of them in rapid succession at the start of the year. Genre definers such as Merle Haggard, Lemmy, Prince, Bowie, Maurice White, and Phife Dawg all dying in just the first four months. This four part blog will attempt to give a small snippet of information on each person who passed to truely appreciate what we lost.
Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister - Date: December 28th 2015. Cause of death: Brain cancer. Age: 70 (four days after his birthday).
Lemmy was the epitome of Rock and Roll, fast, hard, and rebellious. Lemmy was known for his mutton chops, gravelly voice, and wild lifestyle. His drink of choice was Jack and Coke, claiming that from the age of 30 he would drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey each day. Lemmy would form the heavy metal band Motorhead in 1975 and continue to play in the band until his death. Motorhead basically created the genre of "Thrash Metal" which would lead to the creation of other famous heavy metal bands, such as Metallica, formed by members of one of the official Motorhead fanclubs. Motorhead is mostly known for their hit "Ace of Spades" and their live album "No Sleep Till Hammersmith", the title of which the Beastie Boys reference in their smash hit song "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." Lemmy dealt with poor health for a number of years before his death and was diagnosed with cancer just days before passing away. The owner of his favorite bar, the Rainbow Bar & Grill, now has a statue of him and has named their patio "Lemmy's Lounge."
Natalie Cole - Date: December 31st 2015(Announced Jan 1st 2016). Cause of death: Heart Failure. Age: 65.
Natalie Cole was the daughter of one of the most famous jazz singers of all time, Nate King Cole, as well as a success in her own right. She has won multiple Grammys and sold over 30million records worldwide, including FOUR platinum albums, two of which she released in the same year. In 2008 she announced she had Hep C, and in 2009 she had to have a kidney transplant due to her previous drug addiction problems. She died of arterial hypertension at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Robert Stigwood - Date: January 4th. Cause of death: Natural. Age: 80
Robert was not a musician himself, but a producer and manager. He dealt with some of the biggest musicals, both film and theater, as well as signing and helping cultivate some of the most famous bands in history, Cream, Bee Gees, The Who, Eric Clapton, and others. The musicals he worked on are icons of the genre, Tommy, Hair, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Jesus Christ Superstar to name a few.
This video gaves a great breakdown of some of his history.
Kitty Kallen - Date: January 7th. Cause of death: Natural. Age: 94
Kitty was a 1930s~60s swing and big band singer. A pop sensation with multiple #1 hits. In 1954 she was voted the most popular female singer in Variety and Billboard. Kitty unfortunatly had to retire due to lung problems in the early 60s.
Otis Clay - Date: January 8th. Cause of death: Heart attack. Age: 73.
Otis Clay had several national R&B hits. His first hit in 1967 "That's how It Is (When You're In Love)" and in "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You," which is more known for the Bob Seger cover version. In 2013 Otis was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
David Bowie - Date: January 10th. Cause of death: Cancer. Age 69 (two days after birthday).
Like Prince, the amount that could be said about David Bowie could fill 10 10,000 word blogs. Bowie was a chameleon of art, constantly reinventing himself with new identities. Broadening his horizons in every form of art: Music, film, fashion, and more. He was known as Ziggy Stardust as well as The Thin White Duke and others during different points in his career. His styles stretched from electrionic to dance to classic rock. His hits span decades with dozens of chart toppers. His most known song, "Space Oddity", has even been performed on the international space station.
Bowie had had cancer for a long time but never revealed it to the outside world until shortly before his death. Many had suspected health problems when he became more of a recluse later in life. Two days before his death, and on his birthday, Bowie released his final album "Blackstar" an album with distinct death related topics. He had been, supposedly, working on demos for one more album when he passed. In film Bowie is most noted for his iconic appearance in "Labyrinth" the Jim Henson fantasy film where he played the antagonist "The Goblin King."
Mic Gillette - Date: January 17th. Cause of death: Heart Attack. Age: 64
Mic Gillette was a founding member and trumpet player for the influential San Fransisco funk band "Tower of Power."
Clarence "Blowfly" Reid - Date: January 18th. Cause of Death: Liver cancer and organ failure. Age: 76.
Clarence was heavily known for being the first dirty rapper, as well as writing X-rated tracks with such colorful names as "Who did I eat last night?" and "Electronic Pussy Sucker." Performing under the pseudonym "Blowfly," Clarence would perform obscenely sexual parodies of songs while dressed as a super hero. In a twist, Clarence was, by day, a successful producer and song writer for artists such as KC and the Sunshine band, and some of the songs Blowfly would parody would be songs Clarence himself had written. Sadly, despite having been sampled by such famous artists as Beyonce, Clarence would die sick and poor to the point of near homelessness.
(THIS NEXT SONG IS INSANELY NSFW)
I haven't even finished a full month yet!