So today (Tuesday) is the day I set down to do a post on the musicians we have lost this year. I began counting up top ten albums, top 40 singles, top tens, and number ones which had principals die this year thus far. I counted 68 lps, 118 top 40s, 59 top tens, and 17 number ones.
Then I gave up. I had just started June.
Wikipedia lists "deaths in rock and roll", a list that includes almost any type of popular music from any year, and includes producers, djs agents, even sound men. There were 22 names listed dying in the '50s, 59 in the '60s, 121 in the '70s, and 182 in the 80's.
I counted 190 in 2016.
They were as young as 19- year old Tomas Lowe and River Reeves of the band Viola Beach, who charted just outside the UK top ten in 2015 with Swings and Waterslides - and died with the rest of their band and their manager, when they tried to beat a bridge opening and failed.
They were as old as Horacio Salgan, a Brazilian tango pianist who was 80 days past his 100th birthday.
Bands such as Mott The Hoople (Dale "Buffin" Griffin), the Box Tops (Danny Smythe), 3 Doors Down (Matt Roberts), and Y&T (Leonard Haze), lost drummers. Others lost keyboardists (Parliament/Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell), bassists (Booker T and the MG's Lewie Steinberg, Harvey Danger's Aaron Huffman, Dio's Jimmy Bain), horn players (Tower Of Power's Mic Gillette, MFSB's TJ Tindall, the Blackbyrds' Alan Barnes), guitarists (Status Quo's Rick Parfitt, Wings' Hugh McCullough). A lot of acts lost vocalists: Nick Caldwell of the Whispers, Gary Loizzo of American Breed, former Beauty Contestant Gayle McCormick of Smith, Carlo Mastrangelo of the Belmonts, Pete Burns of Dead Or Alive, Robert "Big Sonny" Edwards of the Intruders, Don Ciccone of the Critters and the latter-day Four Seasons, Jerry Corbetta of Sugarloaf.
And then there were the stars: David Bowie. Glen Frey. Paul Kantner. Maurice White. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. Andy "Thunderclap" Newman. Merle Haggard. Prince. Billy Paul.Glen Yarbrough. Rod Temperton. Bobby Vee. Leon Russell. Leonard Cohen. And George Michael, of course.
Names beyond the music itself also fell- Robert Stigwood and George Martin, the guiding geniuses behind two of the biggest acts of all time, the Bee Gees and the Beatles, went down. Two influential acts of the 60s and 70s lost two members (ELP's Lake and Emerson, Jefferson Airplane's Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson).
Some of the names were more known for what they wrote- Clarence "Blowfly" Reid who wrote Clean Up Woman and Rockin' Chair; Mark Gray wrote The Closer You Get and Take Me Down; John D Loudermilk wrote Indian Reservation, Tobacco Road, Norman, and Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye; Guy Clark wrote Desperadoes Waiting For A Train and Heartbroke. Some, like Temperton, Sandy Perlman (Blue Oyster Cult), and Gary Paxton (the Hollywood Argyles) were more behind the scenes. Some, like The Voice's Christina Grimmie, we barely got to know.
Some held records. Merle Haggard had 36 country #1s. Julius La Rosa (Eh, Cumpari!) peaked at #21 five times between 1956-8.
21 were listed with heart problems as cause of death; 3 brain tumors, 12 from lung diseases, 6 from dementia or Alzheimers complications, 27 other cancers, 2 suicides, and two drug overdoses. Which is I guess a good thing, as I counted 31 listed ods from 1956-1989.
Some had only tenuous claims to fame. Dennis Davis' high point was drumming on Bowie's Young Americans; McCullough was lead guitar for Wings on Hi Hi Hi and My Love; Signe Toly Anderson was only on the first Jefferson Airplane lp; and Lenny Baker sang Blue Moon for Sha Na Na on Grease.
32 of them were younger than me.
I remember a day when we could fit most of the stars that had died on a Righteous Brothers song. Now, you'd need a box set. Maybe just for this year. But was THIS year really worse? You tell me.
Wiki listed deaths 2015: 89.
Wiki listed deaths 2016: 190.
And now, I add on Debbie Reynolds. Her Tammy was #1 for 7 weeks and was the #1 song of 1957. Just a day or two after her daughter Carrie Fisher. I don't know if the heroes' hall in Valhalla is full, but I sure hope the musician's hall is...