As we mourn those who were lost in 2016, we note the many creative talents in the music world who left us this year, and remember their singular gifts.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The internationally-celebrated jazz vocalist Ernestine Anderson (November 11, 1928-March 10, 2016) earned four Grammy nominations during her six-decade career. After hitting the road at age 18 with R&B singer Johnny Otis and then Lionel Hampton, she performed around the world, recording a hit album, “Hot Cargo,” in Europe in 1958. Time Magazine called her “the best-kept jazz secret in the land.”
Several more albums followed, including the much-praised “Moanin’.” Anderson quit singing for several years but re-emerged in the late ‘70s, producing over a dozen more albums.
Producer Quincy Jones, a childhood friend, once described Anderson’s voice as the sound of “honey at dusk.”
Latin jazz saxophonist Leandro “Gato” Barbieri (November 28, 1932-April 2, 2016) was a disciple of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane’s style of free jazz, and performed with jazz avant-garde maven Don Cherry. But in a career spanning more than seven decades and dozens of recordings, Barbieri would meld Latin American styles with soul, smooth jazz and pop. He played with Carlos Santana on the 1976”Europa,” and won a Grammy Award for his soulful music for the 1973 Marlon Brando film ”Last Tango in Paris.”
Last year, Barbieri received a Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award, for a career that covered “virtually the entire jazz landscape.”
Guitarist John Berry (1963-May 19, 2016) met fellow musician Michael Diamond at the Walden School in Manhattan, and helped found the punk band Beastie Boys in 1981, along with Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach.
Berry (who also came up with the band’s name) left the group shortly after recording the EP ”Polly Wog Stew” in 1982.
From left: Kate Schellenbach, Adam Yauch, John Berry and Michael Diamond.
Berry “remained friendly” with Yauch and Diamond after leaving the group and continued to pursue his interests in both music and art, performing with such bands as Even Worse, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe.
During the Beastie Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2012, Berry was remembered in a letter from Yauch, who paid homage to Berry’s loft at Broadway and 100th Street, “where John’s dad would come busting in during our first practice screaming, ‘Will you turn that f------ s--- off already!’”
French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (March 26, 1925-January 5, 2016) had a reputation as a hardcore modernist steeped in the dissonances of 20th-Century music, forging a career as a leading figure in contemporary classical composition. He proselytized the atonal techniques of Arnold Schoenberg, and produced an album of Frank Zappa compositions. But he also turned in brilliant performances of decidedly Romantic composers, such as Mahler and Wagner.
Singer, songwriter and actor David Bowie (January 8, 1947-January 10, 2016) frequently changed personas and musical styles, from his early rock ballads to the glam-rock of Ziggy Stardust, to the “electric soul” pop artist of “Let’s Dance” and “Young Americans,” and the techno-rock of “Heroes” - steadfastly refusing to be pinned down or pigeonholed. He was, according to VH1’s Bill Flanagan, “the most influential figure to appear in rock music after the 1960s. Without Bowie, there would be no Lady Gaga or Nirvana, no U2 or Madonna.”
Bowie died just two days after the release of his final album, “Blackstar,” which fans and critics recognized as a meditation on death and transcendence.
In 1945 Oscar Brand (February 7, 1920-September 30, 2016) walked into the studios of WNYC Radio in New York City offering to host a program of folk music. “Folksong Festival,” a casual mix of song, conversation and humor, has been broadcast ever since, and while Brand accepted no payment for the show, it did earn him a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-airing radio show with the same host.
He became part of the American folk music revival, collaborating with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Josh White, Burl Ives and Pete Seeger, and inviting such artists as Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Odetta, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell to his studio. As a supporter of free speech, Brand continued to invite politically-active artists during the anti-Communist fervor of the 1940s and ‘50s, including those who were blacklisted. Brand also composed music for the theater and television, and wrote pop songs for Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald and others.
In 2005 Brand was honored with a George Foster Peabody Award for decades “in service to the music and messages of folk performers and fans around the world.”
Called “one of our great true eccentrics” by Boy George, Pete Burns (August 5, 1959-October 23, 2016) rose to prominence as the singer of Dead or Alive, with the band’s hit 1985 single, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”
While he continued to record and tour, and was a contestant on the U.K. reality show “Celebrity Big Brother,” Burns became better known in pop culture for his dramatically transforming appearance. “People redecorate their homes every few years and I see this as no different,” Burns told the Daily Mail in 2011. “Changing my face is like buying a new sofa.”
“Like a bird on a wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free.”
Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934-November 7, 2016) once said he got into music because he couldn’t make a living as a poet. The Canadian singer-songwriter rose to prominence during the folk music revival of the 1960s, He seamlessly blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like “Hallelujah,” ‘’Suzanne,” “So Long Marianne” and “Bird on a Wire,” winning him fans around the world and among fellow musicians like Bob Dylan and R.E.M.
“Hallelujah” went from cult hit to modern standard, now an unending staple on movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, reality shows and high school choir concerts.
Like Dylan, Cohen’s voice lacked polish but rang with emotion. He remained wildly popular into his 80s, when his deep baritone plunged to seriously gravelly depths. He toured earlier this year and last month released a new album, “You Want It Darker.” He also published more than a dozen novels and books of poetry.
In 1968 Cohen, both a Jew and a Buddhist, told an interviewer from The New York Times, “I don’t even think of myself as a writer, singer or whatever. The occupation of being a man is so much more.”
Actress Charmian Carr (December 27, 1942-September 17, 2016) was best known for sweetly portraying the eldest von Trapp daughter (pictured, far left) in the Oscar-winning film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.” As Liesl, she sang “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”
After appearing in “Evening Primrose” with Anthony Perkins, she traded acting for interior design, but returned to her von Trapp Family experiences in two books she wrote: “Forever Liesl” and “Letters to Liesl.” Carr also appeared frequently at fan events commemorating the classic musical, including sing-a-long performances at the Hollywood Bowl.
“I tell people that they should consider sing-a-long ‘Sound of Music’ like going to a therapist,” she told The Associated Press in 2005. “They can skip their appointment with the shrink that week.”
Peter Maxwell Davies
British composer Peter Maxwell Davies (September 8, 1934-March 14, 2016) was a pioneer of modern and avant-garde music that divided audiences, but the “enfant terrible” also created rapturous theatre works, symphonies, chamber music and operas - lyrical pieces inspired by the folk songs and landscapes of the British Isles. Among his most heralded: ”Farewell to Stormness,” a plaintive piece for solo piano; and the popular ”An Orkney Wedding With Sunrise” (as performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, with bagpiper, at the 2014 Proms), which was inspired by a Scottish marriage celebration in which musicians and dancers alike becoming increasingly inebriated.
“I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian,
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation.”
Born Malik Isaac Taylor, Phife Dawg (November 20, 1970-March 22, 2016) was a masterful lyricist whose witty wordplay was a linchpin of the groundbreaking hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. He was part of a number of rap classics with Tribe, including “Scenario,” ‘’Bonita Applebum,” ‘’Can I Kick It?” and “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo.”
The group, which blended genres such as jazz into hip-hop, and recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” said of Phife (sometimes called the “Five Foot Assassin”), “His music and what he’s contributed is seismic and hard to measure. He’s affected us as much as he’s affected all of you. We’re inspired by his daily joy and courage.
“We are devastated. This is something we weren’t prepared for although we all know that life is fleeting.”
A daughter of vaudeville stars, Gloria DeHaven (July 23, 1925-July 30,2016) carved out her own successful career as the bright-eyed, vivacious star of Hollywood musicals and comedies of the 1940s and ‘50s, including “Summer Holiday” (with Mickey Rooney, pictured), “Two Girls and a Sailor” (with Van Johnson and June Allyson), and “Three Little Words” (with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton), in which she played her own mother.
A pinup favorite of GIs during World War II, DeHaven toured with big bands led by Bing Crosby’s brother Bob and others, when she was spotted by an MGM talent scout. She was frequently the second lead in lightweight fare like ‘’Summer Stock” and ‘’The Yellow Cab Man.”
DeHaven also appeared on Broadway, and on television (including the soap operas “Ryan’s Hope” and “As the World Turns”), and became a regular on Bob Hope’s overseas tours to entertain U.S. troops.
Keith Emerson (November 2, 1944-March 10, 2016), a founder of the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, was heralded as one of the most gifted keyboardists of his generation.
Hailing from Yorkshire, England, Emerson was a musical prodigy playing in blues and jazz clubs in London by his late teens. He played in one of the first progressive rock groups, the Nice, before debuting with vocalist/guitarist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.
EL&P recorded six platinum-selling albums with long, ornate pieces full of complicated rhythms, intricate chords and time signature changes. The orchestrations drew on classical and jazz styles and sometimes wedded traditional rock instruments with full orchestras. Palmer said in a statement that Emerson “was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz.”
Despite his success, Emerson never considered himself a rock or pop icon. “He hated being called rock star or prog-rock star,” Emerson’s longtime partner, Mari Kawaguchi, told the AP. “He wanted to be known as composer.” Among his works is a classical piano concerto.
Singer Joey Feek (September 9, 1975-March 4, 2016), who formed the award-winning country duo Joey + Rory with her husband, songwriter Rory Feek, found success following their 2008 appearance on the Country Music Television singing competition “Can You Duet?” Their first album, “The Life of a Song,” which featured a plainspoken style and Joey’s sweet, smoky voice, was a hit. Their blended voices and deep bonds made them beloved by fans of traditional country music. In addition to performing, the two opened a restaurant, Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse, inside an old general store in Pottsville, Tennessee, that became a community center.
“We’re experiencing everything together,” Joey told The Associated Press in 2010. “That’s been the highlight of it all.”
Rory Feek documented their life together on his blog, thislifeilive.com. He would later write about his wife’s diagnosis of cervical cancer, in 2014, which continued to spread despite multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Last fall, Rory wrote that they had decided to end treatment.
Even after the diagnosis, the couple continued to record, and an album of hymns topped the Billboard Top Country Albums chart in March. Their song, “If I Needed You,” was nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the Grammy Awards, and they are also nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year at the 2016 Academy of Country Music Awards in April.
“Though this is, and has been, a time of many tears of sorrow, it has also been a time of countless tears of joy,” Rory wrote.
He had what The New York Times called “the face that could launch a thousand shticks.” Character actor Fyvush Finkel (Oct. 9, 1922-Aug. 14, 2016) began his career in New York’s Yiddish theater at age nine, as a boy soprano. He would go on to star in “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway and in a national tour. But when “Fiddler” ended, Finkel auditioned for 12 shows, and didn’t get any of them. It was then, he told “Sunday Morning” in 2014, that he decided to go back to school.
“My family laughed: ‘You’re going to school, a man of 52?’ I said, ‘Yes. I wanna know what’s wrong.’”
He learned how to perform for the camera, and in his 50s reinvented himself as a movie actor, with roles in “Q&A,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “For Love or Money,” “Nixon,” and the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man.” On TV, his role as attorney Douglas Wambaugh in “Picket Fences” earned him an Emmy Award.
Jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain (July 3, 1930-August 6, 2016), a fixture of his hometown of New Orleans, was well known to television viewers of Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson, playing his mix of swing and Dixieland.
He began playing professionally in his teens on Bourbon Street, whose strip clubs, music joints and bars he called his “conservatory.” (He would open his first club there in 1960.) Fountain performed everywhere (touring nationally with the Dukes of Dixieland and with Al Hirt), but he was an especially familiar figure at Mardi Gras parades. In a tradition-drenched city, his annual trek through the French Quarter with his “Half-Fast Walking Club” was a raucous New Orleans ritual, one he rarely missed even when he was in failing health.
Fountain lost many possessions, and his home, in Hurricane Katrina. “But I have two of my best clarinets so I’m OK. I can still toot,” he told the Associated Press.
Guitarist Glenn Frey (November 6, 1948-January 18, 2016), a founding member of the Eagles, was lead vocalist on the group’s breakthrough hit, “Take It Easy,” as well as on “Heartache Tonight,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Already Gone,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “New Kid in Town.” His solo hits include “The Heat Is On” and “Smuggler’s Blues.”
Juan Gabriel (Jan. 7, 1950-Aug. 28, 2016), a superstar Mexican songwriter and singer, whose real name was Alberto Aguilera Valadez, was an icon in the Latin music world.
His ballads about love and heartbreak and bouncy mariachi tunes became hymns throughout Latin America and Spain and with Spanish speakers in the United States.
He brought many adoring fans to tears as they sang along when he crooned such hits as “Hasta Que Te Conoci” (“Until I Met You”) and “Amor Eterno” (“Eternal Love”). His song “Querida” (“Dear”) topped Mexico’s charts for a whole year.
A six-time Grammy nominee, Gabriel was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and received countless industry awards, including ASCAP Songwriter of the Year in 1995, Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year 2009, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that same year.
For years internationally-known bluegrass artist Melvin Goins (1933-July 29, 2016) performed with such bright lights as the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Montain Boys, before fronting his own band with brother Ray, which later evolved into Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain.
Named an “Appalachian Treasure” by Morehead State University in 2000, and inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Goins continued playing approximately 200 concert dates a year, while also performing at schools, and serving as host of the weekly “Bluegrass Hour” on radio station KISI.
“The importance of Melvin Goins for bluegrass music is not only the recording, but playing on radio and TV, traveling and appearing at bluegrass and other concerts,” Raymond McLain, director of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State University, told the Huntington (W.Va.) Herald-Dispatch. “Melvin and Ray did a lot of school shows and introduced people to traditional music. That reinforces our cultural heritage.”
Country music singer-songwriter Merle Haggard (April 6, 1937-April 6,2016) said he was “a very happy child until my father passed away” when Merle was nine. Haggard hated school, held odd jobs, and was eventually imprisoned for robbery. After attempting to escape, he was transferred to the notorious San Quentin prison,where he saw Johnny Cash perform. It turned his life around.
Haggard became a bona fide country star by the mid-1960s, pioneering the gritty, twangy “Bakersfield Sound” that was the first country music style to rely heavily on electric instrumentation and a rock-and-roll beat. Part of the outlaw country movement (with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings), Haggard had 41 number-one hits, including “Mama Tried,” “The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde,” “Okie from Muskogee,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.”
“I don’t have a great education and music was a way out of poverty,” Haggard said in a 2014 interview with The Associated Press. “I knew there was not much for me to look forward to if I didn’t make it in music.”
He was modest about his success as a musical champion for the common man: “I’m a hillybilly that rhymes words,” he once said.
Musician-songwriter Fred Hellerman (May 13, 1927-Sept. 1, 2016) was a founding member of the influential folk music quartet the Weavers, formed in the late 1940s along with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Ronnie Gilbert. They helped to popularize folk music in the U.S. with recordings including “Goodnight Irene” and “On Top of Old Smoky.”
The group disbanded after they were blacklisted by anti-Communists in the early 1950s, but performed again into the 1960s, and then at a reunion concert at Carnegie Hall in 1980 (pictured, with Hellerman at right).
Hellerman also produced Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 record, “Alice’s Restaurant,” and worked with several artists over his career as a composer, arranger and songwriter.
After graduating high school in Indiana, Florence Henderson (Feb. 14, 1934-Nov. 24, 2016) moved to New York, where her singing impressed Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who made her the lead in a 1952 road tour of “Oklahoma!” She won raves in a 1954 Broadway revival of the show, and would also star in productions of “Fanny,” “The Sound of Music,” “South Pacific,” “The Girl Who Came to Supper” and “The King and I.”
But her most famous role was as “America’s Mom” - the ever-cheerful Carol Brady, matriarch of a blended family of three boys and three girls, joined by their widowed parents’ second marriages, in “The Brady Bunch.” The show, which ran from 1969-1974 (and then ceaselessly in reruns), spurred TV movie sequels, a variety series, and film spoofs.
“It represents what people always wanted: a loving family,” Henderson said in 1999. “It’s such a gentle, innocent, sweet show, and I guess it proved there’s always an audience for that.”
Pictured: Florence Henderson on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1967.
Bobby Hutcherson (Jan. 17, 1941-Aug. 15, 2016) was one of the most inventive jazz vibraphonists to pick up a pair of mallets. Best known for his post-bop recordings for Blue Note Records in the 1960s and ‘70s, he recorded more than 40 albums, and played (as both bandleader and sideman) with a litany of jazz greats, among them: Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon.
Noted for an eclectic approach that was at once colorful, powerful and also cool and melodic, Hutcherson came of age musically as jazz was moving into a cerebral, more avant-garde era that matched his playing.
Listen to “Tranquillity” [sic] from Hutcherson’s 1965 album, “Components” (featuring Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Joe Chambers.
“Bobby Hutcherson’s sound and innovative style on the vibraphone helped revitalize the instrument in the 1960s, adding an adventurous new voice to the free jazz and post-bop eras,” the National Endowment for the Arts said Tuesday.
Country singer Sonny James (May 1, 1928-February 22, 2016), who recorded romantic ballads and turned pop songs into country hits, was known as the “Southern Gentleman” because of his gentle, respectable demeanor. He was also a songwriter as well as a guitarist and fiddler, who scored his biggest hit, “Young Love,” in 1956. It sold 3 million copies and became a No. 1 hit on the country and pop charts.
A decade later, he started an impressive run on top of the country charts with 16 consecutive No. 1 songs between 1967 and 1971, including ‘’You’re the Only World I Know,” ‘’Take Good Care of Her,” “It’s the Little Things,” “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “A World of Our Own,” “Heaven Says Hello,” ‘’Empty Arms,” ‘’Behind the Tear,” ‘’That’s Why I Love You Like I Do,” “Here Comes Honey Again,” and ‘’When the Snow Is on the Roses.”
James was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
Singer Sharon Jones (May 4, 1956-November 18, 2016) grew up idolizing the Godfather of Soul and would later be frequently tagged as “the female James Brown.” Though she sang gospel in church and worked as a backup singer, her career did not take off until she was 40, with the release of a single, “Damn It’s Hot.” As she sang on “I’m Still Here,” despite her show-stopping talent, she was continuously turned down by music executives for being “too short, too fat, too black and too old.”
She sparked a soul and funk revival after being named lead singer of The Dap-Kings. Their first album was the 2002 “Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings,” released when Jones was 46.
Diagnosed with cancer in 2013, she returned to the stage two years later after it went into remission (as documented in the 2015 film “Miss Sharon Jones!”). She hit the road again this summer with the Dap-Kings even while undergoing chemotherapy when the disease returned.
“You got to be brave,” Jones told the Associated Press in July, in-between tour stops. “I want to use the time that I have. I don’t want to spend it all laid up, wishing I had done that gig.”
Guitarist-singer-songwriter Paul Kantner (March 17, 1941-January 28, 2016), third from the right, was a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane (pictured here in 1968). The seminal San Francisco band advocated sex, psychedelic drugs, rebellion and a communal lifestyle, operating out of an eccentric, Colonial Revival house near Haight-Ashbury. Its members supported various political and social causes, tossed out LSD at concerts, and played at both the Monterey and Woodstock festivals, where they performed such classics as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”
Kantner stayed with the band through its transformation from 1960s hippies to 1970s hitmakers as the eventual leader of successor group Jefferson Starship.
Guitarist and singer Greg Lake (November 10, 1947-December 7, 2016) was a co-founder (with guitarist Robert Fripp) of King Crimson, the influential late ‘60s progressive rock band. After one album and one U.S. tour, King Crimson disbanded while appearing at San Francisco’s Filmore West. On the same bill was another British progressive rock band, The Nice, with keyboardist Keith Emerson. That band was also splitting up, and so was born Emerson, Lake and Palmer, one of the genre’s most successful groups.
“It’s very weird, but there you go - strange things happen sometimes.” Lake told Rolling Stone magazine in 2013. “Music and the music business is sort of very fortuitous. It’s very circumstantial.”
With Emerson (who died in March 2016) and drummer Carl Palmer, ELP released six platinum-selling albums characterized by songs of epic length, classical influence and ornate imagery, and toured with elaborate light shows and theatrical staging. With the rise in punk in the mid-to-late ’70s, progressive rock bands suffered a backlash. ELP broke up in 1979, reunited in 1991, disbanded again, and then reunited for a 2010 tour.
Palmer, the group’s sole survivor, said “Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music.”
Pictured: Lake photographed by Jean-Luc Ourlin at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, Feb. 3, 1978.
Conductor Neville Marriner (April 15, 1924-October 2, 2016) was a violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra when, in 1959, he joined with several other musicians to form a chamber group, which was initially intended to perform without a leader.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields built its reputation with stylish performances of baroque and classical repertoire: Bach, Handel, Mozart and Haydn. From its beginnings, with 18 players, it grew to a full-size orchestra with an affiliated chorus, and became one of the world’s most-recorded classical music groups, with more than 500 recordings to its credit.
Marriner gravitated into conducting, and led the group in performing the soundtrack to Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning 1984 film “Amadeus,” composed mainly of Mozart pieces. It became one of the best-selling classical recordings of all time.
Sir George Martin (January 3, 1926-March 8, 2016), often referred to as “the fifth Beatle,” was the band’s urbane producer who quietly guided their swift, historic transformation from rowdy club act to musical and cultural revolutionaries.
“They were cheeky and they had this sparkle,” Martin told CBS News about his earliest impressions of the group. “When you’re with them, you feel enriched in their presence. And when they go away, you feel a bit diminished.”
In a tribute, Paul McCartney wrote. “He was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.”
McCartney said that one of his favorite memories of Martin was of the changes he suggested on the song “Yesterday.” Martin asked McCartney to try using a string quartet on the record, though the songwriter pushed back. “When we recorded the string quartet at Abbey Road, it was so thrilling to know his idea was so correct that I went round telling people about it for weeks,” McCartney said.
The son of Buddy Rich’s longtime jazz saxophonist Don Menza, drummer Nick Menza (July 23, 1964-May 21, 2016) began his career as a session musician before being recruited by then-Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler to serve as drum tech. After Behler left the band, Menza was invited to join Megadeth in 1989, performing on four studio albums (including the band’s 1990 classic, “Rust in Peace” and 1992’s “Countdown to Extinction”), and providing a memorable stage presence on tour with his Greg Voelker Rack System. He also performed on three of fellow Megadeth member Marty Friedman’s solo albums.
Menza’s tenure with the group ended in 1998, when knee problems and a benign tumor forced him to leave the band’s tour in support of “Cryptic Writings.” He issued a solo album, “Life After Deth,” in 2002. He also performed with Memorain, Orphaned to Hatred, Deltanaut, and OHM.
(Pictured: Megadeth in 1997, from left: Menza, Friedman, David Ellefson and Dave Mustaine.)
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Grammy-winning singer George Michael (June 25, 1963-December 25, 2016) rose to fame as part of the duo Wham!, with such hits as “Young Guns,” “Careless Whisper,” “Freedom,” “Make It Big,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Where Did Your Heart Go.” Michael would sell 100 million albums throughout his four-decade career, including his debut solo album, “Faith,” and the singles “I Want Your Sex,” “Jesus to a Child,” and “Fastlove.”
His 1987 duet with Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting,” was one of many noted collaborations, including “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (with Elton John), “Somebody to Love” (with Queen), “As” (with Mary J. Blige), “If I Told You That” (with Whitney Houston), and “This Is Not Real Love” (with Mutya Buena).
A near-fatal bout of pneumonia in 2011 affected Michael with “foreign accent syndrome,” speaking with a West Country accent when he awoke from a coma. “The doctors were worried that I had this condition where some people wake up speaking French or some language they learned at school,” Michael told London’s LBC radio. “There’s nothing wrong with a West Country accent, but it’s a bit weird when you’re from north London.”
He was a fan of jazz and country and was strongly influenced by Chet Atkins and Les Paul. The sharp, graceful style of rock guitarist Scotty Moore (December 27, 1931-June 28, 2016) helped Elvis Presley shape his revolutionary sound and inspired a generation of musicians, including Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Bruce Springsteen.
Moore was a local session musician when he and bassist Bill Black were thrown together with Presley on July 5, 1954, in the Memphis-based Sun Records studios, where they recorded such tunes as “That’s All Right” and “Mystery Train.” Moore’s bright riffs and fluid solos - natural compliments to Presley’s strumming rhythm guitar - and Black’s hard-slapping work on a standup bass gave Elvis the foundation on which he developed a fresh blend of blues, gospel and country that came to be called rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis was the star, but young musicians listened closely to Moore’s contributions, whether the slow, churning solo he laid down on “Heartbreak Hotel” or the flashy lead on “Hard-Headed Woman.”
“Everyone else wanted to be Elvis,” Keith Richards once observed. “I wanted to be Scotty.”
Grammy-winning musician Emilio Navaira (August 23, 1962-May 16, 2016) was described as the “Garth Brooks of Tejano.” He released nearly a dozen albums in Spanish and English, mostly a mix of traditional Mexican music and accordion-based polka, but also some country. He won a Best Tejano Album Grammy in 2002 for “Acuerdate,” and a Latin Grammy Award for his 2007 album, “De Nuevo.”
In a 1995 interview with The Monitor newspaper, Navaira said music was his life and that he was not going to let anyone get him down.
“Soy Chicano. I’m from San Antonio and always will be,” he said. “We must be proud of where we came from and who we are to make it anywhere.”
The gifts of singer Marni Nixon (1929-July 24, 2016) were featured in such classic movie musicals as ‘’The King and I,” “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady.” But viewers would be forgiven for mistaking her contributions for that of Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood or Audrey Hepburn - actresses whose singing voices were dubbed by Nixon. She even hit high notes for Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
Her role was contractually kept secret. In 2008 Nixon told Charles Osgood of CBS’ “Sunday Morning”
that she was threatened that I wouldn’t work again if anybody knew, but other people said it for me, so I was lucky.”
It was Kerr who revealed Nixon had dubbed her singing, in an interview with columnist Earl Wilson. “I said to her, ‘Look, people aren’t supposed to know that I did your dubbing,’” Nixon recalled. “And she said, ‘Well, I don’t have to know that that’s in your contract.’ She was that gracious.”
Guitarist Rick Parfitt (October 12, 1948-December 24, 2016), of the band Status Quo, was dubbed “The Womorr” (as in “the wild old man of rock and roll”).
Parfitt, who was known for his slashing style of playing, also wrote some of Status Quo’s best-known songs, including “Whatever You Want” and “Backwater.”
Earlier this year Parfitt told Dave Ling of Classic Rock magazine that he had no interest in playing a milder form of music: “In my heart I’m a rocker, I’ve always been. If I’m going to make music it’s got to rock. … I’m not a great fan of the whole acoustic malarkey. It doesn’t float my boat.”
Born Paul Williams, jazz and soul singer Billy Paul (December 1, 1934-April 24, 2016), a Philadelphia native, was featured on a handful of singles while still in his teens, and performed with such jazz stars as Charlie Parker and Dinah Washington. Drafted into the military in his early 20s, he formed a band in Germany “so we didn’t have to do any any hard work,” he told bluesandsoul.com in 2015. On the same base in Germany was a somewhat famous name in music: “We tried to get Elvis to join, but he wanted to be a jeep driver ... He wanted to get away from music for a while.”
Paul performed for several decades, even after his announced retirement. But he was best known for his 1972 ballad, “Me and Mrs. Jones.” The lush and sensuous arrangement and the singer’s powerful tenor made the song about an extramarital affair his first and only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. The recording also won Paul a Grammy for Best Male Rhythm ‘n Blues Performance.
But radio stations resisted Paul’s more socially-conscious follow-up song, “Am I Black Enough for You,” and The Rev. Jesse Jackson was among those who objected to the explicit “Let’s Make a Baby” (1975).
Born Prince Rogers Nelson, the flamboyant musician Prince (June 7, 1958-April 21, 2016) burst onto the scene in the 1980s with a unique blend of rock, R&B, funk and soul, adorned with risqué lyrics and costumes, and an overt sexuality. “1999” (1982), and the film and soundtrack of 1984’s “Purple Rain” (pictured), for which he won an Oscar for Best Song Score, established him as a superstar.
In an era of MTV and VH1, Prince’s music helped define the decade with such hits as “When Doves Cry,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”
He was just as successful penning hits for other artists, including the Bangles (“Manic Monday”), Tevin Campbell (“Round and Round”), and Sinead O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U”).
An inductee in the Songwriters Hall of Fame for such classics as “Delta Lady,” the Oklahoma-born Leon Russell (April 2, 1942-November 13, 2016) began as a nightclub piano player at the age of 14, backing touring artists when they came to town. Jerry Lee Lewis was so impressed that he hired Russell and his band for two years of tours.
He relocated to Los Angeles in 1959, where he became known as a top musician (he played keyboard for the studio team known as the Wrecking Crew). Russell played on The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” and landmark “Pet Sounds” album, Jan and Dean’s “Surf City,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
He also produced and played on recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ike and Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones and many others. And his 1970 debut album, “Leon Russell,” featured a pretty hefty backing band: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Merry Claytton and Joe Cocker, among others.
In 1973, when he was the headline act for such artists as Willie Nelson and Elton John, Billboard Magazine listed Russell as the top concert attraction in the world.
In a 1992 interview with The Associated Press, Russell - referred to as “The Master of Time and Space” - said music doesn’t really change much: “It’s cyclical, like fashion. You keep your old clothes and they’ll be in style again sooner or later.”
Frank Sinatra Jr.
Singer Frank Sinatra Jr. (January 10, 1944-March 16, 2016) followed his famous father into music as a teenager, eventually working for Sinatra Sr. as his musical director and conductor.
In 2015, on what would have been his father’s 100th birthday, he described his father’s voice to “Sunday Morning” correspondent Mo Rocca as “truth. ... When Sinatra sang, you believed him.”
He was able to provide a link to his father’s music after the Chairman of the Board’s death, in 1998, performing his songs and arrangements on tours and especially in Las Vegas. “Since my father’s death, a lot of people have made it clear that they’re not ready to give up the music,” Sinatra Jr. said in a 2002 Associated Press interview. “For me, it’s a big, fat gift. I get to sing with a big orchestra and get to sing orchestrations that will never be old.”
Praised by Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, Ricky Skaggs and countless other artists, bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley (Feb. 25, 1927-June 23, 2016) helped expand and popularize the “old time” music of Appalachia. Born and raised in Big Spraddle, Va., a land of coal mines and deep forests, he and his brother Carter formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946, and toured the country playing folk and bluegrass festivals. After Carter’s death in 1966, Ralph drew even deeper from his Appalachian roots.
At age 73, he was introduced to a new generation of fans in 2000 due to his chilling a cappella dirge “O Death” from the hit soundtrack of the Coen Brothers film, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Stanley won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 2002, beating out Tim McGraw, Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Lyle Lovett.
The following year he and Jim Lauderdale would win a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for “Lost in the Lonesome Pines.” “I call him the king of mountain soul,” Lauderdale said. “He had that magical quality about him, that when you heard him, there’s something about it that really touches you deeply. And he could make you want to cry, laugh or dance.”
Writer-composer Elizabeth Swados (February 5, 1951-January 5, 2016) won an Obie Award for her 1978 musical, “Runaways,” developed from her interviews with streetchildren. She also worked with cartoonist Garry Trudeau on two musicals, “Rap Master Ronnie” and “Doonesbury.” In 2014 she co-directed an animated film, “My Depression,” based on her picture-book memoir of mental illness.
The British-born musician and songwriter Rod Temperton (October 9, 1949-Sept./Oct. 2016) once told BBC Radio he had been lulled to sleep as a baby by the sound of music on a transistor radio placed in his crib.
Temperton started his career in the disco band Heatwave, for which he played keyboards and wrote two major hits, “Boogie Nights” and “Always and Forever.” He also collaborated with Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Anita Baker and Quincy Jones.
He had a singular knack for pop-funk, as in the Michael Jackson classics “Thriller,” ‘’Rock With You,” ‘’Off the Wall” and ‘’Rock with You.” Numerous other artists would have hits with his work, including George Benson with “Give Me the Night” and Donna Summer with “Love Is in Control (finger on the Trigger).” Temperton also received an Oscar nomination as a co-writer of “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister),” from the soundtrack of “The Color Purple,” and contributed several songs to the Billy Crystal-Gregory Hines comedy, “Running Scared.”
In 2006 Temperton explained to the Yorkshire Post the gift that made him a hit machine: “You have to please yourself first. Once you feel the hairs stand up on the back of your hand, you can go for the world. Writing a song is the biggest moment of all. Yesterday it didn’t exist. Today it does.”
Hailed by Quincy Jones as “one of the greatest musicians of our time,” Belgian-born jazz harmonicist Toots Thielemans (April 29, 1922-Aug. 22, 2016) had his international breakthrough in 1950 when he joined Benny Goodman on a European concert tour. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1952, as part of Charlie Parker’s All Stars.
He demonstrated that the chromatic harmonica could serve up bebop; played with artists as varied as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Billy Joel; and contributed haunting, memorable harmonica solos on film and TV scores, including “Midnight Cowboy,” “Cinderella Liberty,” ‘’The Getaway,” “The Sugarland Express,” and the children’s TV series “Sesame Street.”
But Thielemans told the Washington Post in 2015 that he had to overcome some doubt in the beginning; when he first picked up the harmonica he was told, “’Throw that toy away,’ get a real instrument!”
Japanese composer Isao Tomita (April 22, 1932-May 5, 2016) was inspired when Walter Carlos’ breakthrough recording “Switched-on Bach” - classical pieces played on a Moog Synthesizer - was released in 1968. It piqued his interest in both music and electronics. (As a student he’d often purchased electrical equipment salvaged from demolished airplanes and tinkered to create gadgets.)
Tomita’s quadraphonic recording “Snowflakes Are Dancing” (1974) features his arrangements of Claude Debussy’s music not just performed on a Moog, but graced with soundscapes beyond what the original composer may have possibly imagined. It received four Grammy nominations, including Best Classical Album.
Tomita would also perform electronic variations of music by Ravel, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Holst, Mussorgsky and John Williams.
In 1977 Tomita told Player Magazine that Japanese companies initially refused to release his records because they didn’t know how to classify electronic music. “I checked to see where ‘Switched-On Bach’ was being put in the stores and found one shop selling it as a sound-effects record,” he said.
Denise Matthews, whose stage name was Vanity (January 4, 1959-February 15, 2016), was a protégé of Prince, and a member of the ‘80s female R&B trio Vanity 6. After having a hit with the 1982 release “Nasty Girl,” Vanity left the group to pursue a solo career with Motown Records. She also worked as an actress, appearing in “The Last Dragon,” “Action Jackson” and “52 Pick-Up.”
After nearly dying from a crack cocaine overdose in 1994, Vanity became a born-again Christian and gave up her stage persona, penning a 1999 memoir, “Blame It on Vanity.”
Born Robert Velline in Fargo, North Dakota, Bobby Vee (April 30, 1943-October 24, 2016) acquired his stage name from a young Minnesota musician, Bob Dylan, who suggested shortening his surname to Vee. He was only 15 when he took the stage in Moorhead, Minn., after the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson on their way to a concert at the Moorhead National Guard Armory. The call went out for local acts to replace Holly, and Vee and his two-week-old band volunteered.
Within months the young singer and his newly-named group The Shadows recorded “Suzie Baby.” Vee went on to record 38 Top 100 hits from 1959 to 1970, hitting the top of the charts in 1961 with the Carole King-Gerry Goffin song “Take Good Care of My Baby,” and reaching No. 2 with the follow-up, “Run to Him.” Other hits included “Rubber Ball,” ‘’The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” ‘’Devil or Angel,” ‘’Come Back When You Grow Up,” ‘’Please Don’t Ask About Barbara” and “Punish Her.”
Vee kept recording into the 2000s, and maintained a steady touring schedule until his last show in 2011, when he began suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s. His album “The Adobe Sessions” was released in 2014. In his memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One,” Dylan recalled that Vee “had a metallic, edgy tone to his voice and it was as musical as a silver bell.”
Papa Wemba (June 14, 1949-April 24, 2016) was hailed around the world as the king of Congolese rumba. The musician (real name: Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba) rose to fame in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa during the 1970s with the band Zaiko Langa Langa, whose guitar-based fusion of Latin and African dance styles inspired a generation of African musicians. With a new band, Viva La Musica, Wemba moved to Paris in the 1980s and helped popularize Congolese music beyond Africa. He also toured in the 1990s with British rock star Peter Gabriel and appeared on his “Secret World Live” album.
A major success for Wemba was his 1995 album, ”Emotion,” an infectious blend of soukous dance rhythms and R&B (the singer even covered Otis Redding’s “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)“), produced by Stephen Hague of Pet Shop Boys. It was reported to be the first gold record by an African artist.
In a tribute, in which he wrote of the power and sadness in the singer’s voice, Gabriel also praised Wemba’s creation of the Sapeur movement, which usurped the image of an impoverished and violent continent without hope by projecting elegance in manners and fashion, “which gave young people real confidence in how they looked and presented themselves to the world. What seemed to some as trivial and flamboyant gave many in West Africa and Paris a real identity and pride.”
Maurice White (December 19, 1941-February 3, 2016) was the founder and leader of of the band Earth, Wind and Fire in the late 1960s. The group went on to sell more than 90 million albums worldwide, displaying a flashy and eclectic musical style that incorporated White’s influences from growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, and working at the influential Chicago music labels Chess and Okeh.
The band’s many hits included “September,” ‘’Shining Star,” a cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Boogie Wonderland.” Earth, Wind & Fire won six Grammys and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame March 6, 2000. (White is pictured singing during the 15th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.)
Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933-August 28, 2016), the star of such classics as the musical “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and a slew of Mel Brooks comedies, died at age 83 from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stamford, Conn.
The frizzy-haired actor, who was nominated twice for an Oscar, was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.”
But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy sheriff in “Blazing Saddles,” and as the charming candy man in the children’s favorite, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (pictured).
Memphis blues and gospel singer Ruby Wilson (February 29, 1948-August 12, 2016) was known as “The Queen of Beale Street.” Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Wilson (who grew up singing in her church choir) moved to Memphis in 1972, where she became a fixture at Beale Street nightclubs, including B.B. King’s Blues Club, where she had a regular weekly performance. She also performed in Europe and Asia, and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Wilson recorded 10 albums and performed with King, Ray Charles, The Four Tops, Isaac Hayes, and others.
“She was an extraordinary ambassador for Memphis, and soul, and R&B and gospel,” said Rollin Riggs, a partner at Resource Entertainment Group. “She had an exceptional stage presence that made you fall in love with her, no matter what style she was singing.”
Born Stanley Dural Jr., accordionist Buckwheat Zydeco (November 14, 1947-September 24, 2016) rose from a cotton-picking family in southwest Louisiana to introduce zydeco music to the world through his namesake band Buckwheat Zydeco.
After earning a Grammy nomination for his 1987 album “On a Night Like This,” he went on tour with Eric Clapton, and recorded with such artists as Ry Cooper, Paul Simon, Dwight Yoakam and Willie Nelson.
Zydeco played at both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations and at the 1996 Olympics closing ceremony in Atlanta.
“He had this charisma,” his longtime manager Ted Fox said. “He had this incredible charisma both onstage and personally. He was a real genuine person. To the end of his days with all the stuff that he’d done, all the awards, he was still the same Stanley Dural Jr. who was picking cotton when he was 5-years-old.”